Government warned local lockdowns could destroy pubs

8 October 2020, 20:23

The trade association said more restrictions would be on top of what is already a "very challenging" period
The trade association said more restrictions would be on top of what is already a "very challenging" period. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

New lockdowns could close thousands of pubs for good and cost countless jobs, the Government is being warned.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said any stricter lockdown measures in the North of England could "destroy" pubs in the region.

The trade association said more restrictions would be on top of what is already a "very challenging" period for the sector with the 10pm curfew and rule of six, plus service limited to tables, resulting in a huge reduction in consumer confidence.

The association is asking the Government for "evidence-based, proportionate measures" and called into question the effectiveness local lockdowns on pubs will have in stopping the spread of the virus.

It noted that no hard evidence has been given yet to suggest that pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, are unsafe, making it unclear if such blanket measures will make a major difference.

According to the BBPA, the Job Support Scheme set to replace the Job Retention Scheme at the end of the month was already not fit for purpose to save jobs, and will not protect jobs in pubs facing a local lockdown.

Read more: Calls grow for government to explain logic of 10pm curfew

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: "A local lockdown without immediate additional and adequate support will destroy many pubs.

"Our sector is already facing the 10pm curfew, rule of six, table service only and low levels of consumer confidence, meaning many are already struggling to stay open.

"A local lockdown would push many to breaking point, forcing them to close for good with countless jobs lost, impacting livelihoods and communities forever.

"We are still to see the hard evidence in England that blanket measures to lock down pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, will significantly stop the spread of the virus.

"Statistics citing that a proportion of people who test positive as having visited hospitality venues in recent weeks is not evidence in itself of greater risk."

The news comes after First Minister Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced a new swathe of regulations for hospitality, which include closing many pubs in the country, and stopping the sale of alcohol inside for two weeks - as part of a so-called "circuit breaker".

Keir Starmer has called on the Government to publish the evidence for the scientific basis for the 10pm curfew.

Speaking to the Commons, Sir Keir said: "The Prime Minister can't explain why an area goes into restriction, he can't explain what the different restrictions are, he can't explain how restrictions end - this is getting ridiculous.

"Next week, this House will vote on whether to approve the 10pm rule. The Prime Minister knows that there are deeply-held views across the country in different ways on this. One question is now screaming out: is there a scientific basis for the 10pm rule?"

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