The UK beer and pub industry has welcomed confirmation that restrictions on pubs in England, including one metre plus social distancing and table service only, will be lifted on July 19th.
According to the BBPA the lifting of restrictions on July 19th – ‘Freedom Day’ – will enable 2,000 more pubs to reopen that have remained shut because they cannot viably operate under restrictions.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality commented: “Confirmation that social distancing measures will be lifted next Monday brings huge relief for hospitality venues hoping to finally head back towards normal trading in England. A week from now, for the first time in 16 months they will be able to move towards profitability, which is vital for the future of a sector beset by Covid-related debts.
“For profitability to be reached as soon as possible, it’s vital that businesses are able to reach their own solutions, to suit their settings, satisfy their risk assessments and optimise implementation costs while ensuring safety. The voluntary nature of the Government guidance should ensure that this is achievable.”
After nearly 18 months of forced closure or operating under heavy restrictions, the BBPA has warned that investment from the Government in pubs and breweries is now crucial as they begin their recovery on July 19th when restrictions are lifted.
To do this it is supporting and promoting the newly launched Long Live The Local campaign. The campaign is urging the Government to invest in the sector so it can drive the economic recovery by reforming VAT, beer duty and business rates, reducing the unfair tax burden pubs and breweries face.
The BBPA also said it had concerns over updated guidance expected to be published soon for the sector by the Government, stating that pubs and brewers needed clarity as soon as possible on guidance and that it must not be used to apply restrictions on pubs ‘via the backdoor’.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “After nearly 18 months of closure or heavy restrictions, ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday 19th July is a huge milestone for our sector.
“It means our beloved locals can properly reopen and operate as they are meant to do so. A pint on ‘Freedom Day’ is going to be all the more special!
“We anticipate some 2,000 more pubs could reopen from July 19th. These are pubs that were unable to reopen and operate viably because of the restrictions.
“The recovery of our sector is just beginning with the last 18 months practically being written off for them. Having been one of the worst hit sectors by lockdown, our pubs and brewers now need the Government to invest in them by reforming VAT, beer duty and business rates to reduce the unfair tax burden they face and aid their recovery. We urge people who want to help their local and see it thrive to support the Long Live the Local campaign and sign the petition at www.LongLiveTheLocal.pub. With the right investment, the brewing and pub sector have a vital role to play in building back better in communities across the country.
“We do have concerns over guidance for the sector, expected to be published soon, as restrictions are lifted. We await the detail of this but are resolute that any new guidance must not be used to impose unnecessary and unfair restrictions on pubs via the backdoor – resulting in ‘Freedom Day’ for pubs being in name only.”
Chief Executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) James Calder said: “Today the Prime Minister has finally given brewers and pubs the green light to lift the remaining hospitality restrictions on July 19th. Our sector should be hailed for having complied with every instruction, every piece of guidance and every rule, despite how maddening and damaging many of them often were. This is because in the majority, they have helped to get us to where we are as a country.
“Yet since last week’s announcement, muddled messaging and rowing back by Government threatens to undermine confidence in the reopening and long-term recovery of our sector. We now need a message of confidence and reassurance as we did in Summer 2020 around Eat Out to Help Out – because as we proved, hospitality is safe. As recent events have shown, pubs are vital to the health, wellbeing, and happiness of the nation.
“With this announcement we now begin the long road to recovery for our sector and for the country. Over the past 16 months, small brewers have lost 80% of their on-sales and built-up debts averaging £30,000 which now must be repaid. Finally lifting the restrictions will give them the opportunity to begin to rebuild their business but only if the public have the confidence to return.”