Leaders press for reopening timeline

The BBPA and sector business leaders have urged the government to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs can reopen.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and sector business leaders have urged the government to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs can reopen. 

The call comes after the revelation that trading restrictions and lockdowns caused sales of beer to plummet by 56% in 2020, down by £7.8bn. 

Given the severity of the impact that trading restrictions and lockdowns have had on the sector, the BBPA and business leaders of the beer and pub industry have published a recovery roadmap to reopen pubs fully after the current lockdown

The roadmap states that post vaccination of the most vulnerable, pubs must reopen when non-essential retail and other parts of the hospitality sector reopen. It also says that mandatory trading restrictions – such as alcoholic drinks served only with a substantial meal, no mixed households and the 10pm curfew – must be removed when pubs reopen in a timely way. 

Financial support 

Upon the re-opening of the sector, the BBPA also says the government will need to continue to provide financial support in the form of a stimulus package to ensure businesses do not fail due to unsustainable debt built up during the lockdowns. It says an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday will be essential, as well as a significant beer duty cut, to help pubs trade profitably once more and start to recover from 2020. 

“Since March, we’ve worked tirelessly and collaboratively to support the battle against Covid-19," says Kevin Georgel, chief executive of St Austell Brewery, which has backed the BBPA's message. "We’ve closed our pubs, invested millions in reopening safely and played a responsible role in balancing the public health risk and the economic impact. Despite these efforts, hospitality continues to suffer more than any other industry.  

“As one of the West Country’s biggest employers, we urge the government to provide us with a definitive reopening date to enable us to plan for reopening safely. We also need immediate and long-term financial support, including an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday. Finally, we must be able to reopen alongside other non-essential retail and without trading restrictions, that made it impossible for pubs to trade viably when the tier system was in place – including the 10pm curfew and rules involving mixed households and substantial meals.  

“The great British pub is part of our social fabric. It’s far more than just a huge economic contributor. The avoidable loss of these wonderful, historic, community assets will be felt by generations to come, if the government don’t act now and provide clarity and further support.”