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Coronavirus – calls for swift Government support for beer and pub sector

The Beer and Pub industry has reacted to the Government advice, issued yesterday, which advised people not to visit pubs, clubs or other public venues.

UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “This is catastrophic for businesses and jobs.  The government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support, and this announcement will lead to thousands of businesses closing their doors for good, and hundreds of thousands of job losses.

“Over the past few weeks the industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many business are already on their knees.  This latest advice leaves the industry in limbo, with no recourse to insurance.

“The Government must act now to stop them going under and protect the people’s jobs. These venues play a unique role as community hubs and it’s in all our interests to protect and preserve them so they are still there once we emerge from this crisis.

“We need immediate and far-reaching support from the government, and meaningful business continuity measures.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association said: “The severity of the COVID-19 crisis is now impacting on Pubs with devastating effect. The very existence of thousands of pubs and a lot more jobs is now at risk.

“The government needs to give clear instructions and detail on the support package to rescue the sector and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“Urgent measures to support cash flows and enable cost reductions is an absolute necessity. Government action now will save thousands of jobs and save our pubs.

“Support for pubs now is an investment in the long-term future of communities across the UK without it we risk losing our community assets forever.”

The BBPA has written to the Prime Minister, stating that the UK Pub Industry will be lost in days without immediate, decisive government action.

James Calder, SIBA Chief Executive said: “Government is right to follow the scientific advice to prevent the spread of this disease. But advising people to stay away from pubs, rather than ordering them to close is an ill thought through halfway house.

“Government’s package of measures announced at the Budget last week were a step in the right direction but we need more. A lot more.

“Pubs, and the small breweries that supply them now need direct Government help if they are to survive.

“This evening and tomorrow we are speaking to Treasury and No10 to make those points in strongest possible terms and we will keep the UK’s small independent brewers updated.”

 

CAMRA’s National Chairman Nik Antona said: “Pubs are at the heart of many communities and often provide other vital services. The advice from the Government for people to avoid pubs will have a devastating effect on the pub and brewing industry, the many millions of people it employs and the huge contribution it makes to local and national economies. The lack of decisive instruction from the Government leaves pubs in a limbo where customers will abandon them, but they’ll be unable to claim insurance or other support to help them survive. The Government has not defined how long people should stay away from pubs, but be in no doubt, within a short time many pubs and breweries will close and never reopen to serve their communities.

 

“If the Government believes people should not go to pubs, it needs to show leadership by clearly telling pubs to close their doors – and not unfairly leave it up to licensees to make an impossible decision. It needs to makes it clear for how long a period the enforced closure should last, and quickly deliver a package of support to see pubs and breweries through until they can again deliver the host of benefits pubs bring to the communities they serve.

 

“This should include, but not be limited to: extending business rate relief to all pubs, regardless of rateable value; deferring or forgiving VAT payments; covering staff salaries; allowing pubs to stay open if they provide other vital community services such as post office facilities; and helping pubs recover at the end of the crisis by introducing a differential rate of duty on draught beer served in pubs.

 

 “We’d also call on pub companies to support their tenants by giving them a rent holiday during the crisis and particularly during any forced closure. Other suppliers such as sports TV providers could also demonstrate their support of the pub industry by giving a payment holiday.”

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