Pubs warn Freedom Day delay will cost them £400 million

15 June 2021, 07:36

Pub bosses have warned that the four-week delay to lifting coronavirus restrictions in England will cost the sector £400 million
Pub bosses have warned that the four-week delay to lifting coronavirus restrictions in England will cost the sector £400 million. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Pub bosses have warned that the four-week delay to lifting coronavirus restrictions in England will cost the sector £400 million.

It came after the Prime Minister said plans to ease trading restrictions and distancing measures will now be pushed back from June 21 to July 19 amid concerns over the spread of the Delta variant.

Hospitality firms are among those which still have trading restricted by service and distancing measures.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said the delay is "hard for our sector to stomach".

Read more: Pleas for furlough scheme extension after Freedom Day delay

She said: "The delay will cost our pubs £400 million for this period alone, but inevitably much more as confidence deteriorates and as a key part of the summer season is lost that is so critical to our sectors viability.

"Pubs and licensees are struggling to recover with the current restrictions they face and debts are accumulating.

Callers clash over reaction to lockdown extension

"Every week the current restrictions stay and uncertainty continues, the likelihood of pubs being lost forever increases.

"A full package of Government support is now critical for our sector until it is guaranteed to open fully without any restrictions."

The Government also confirmed on Monday that it will not further extend furlough and other financial support schemes despite the delay.

Read more: Freedom Day delayed - PM faces fury over not closing borders to Delta variant

Read more: 'Kick in the teeth' - business owners react to roadmap delay

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of pub group Greene King, described Boris Johnson's update as a "huge blow".

"We now face further uncertainty and must wait even longer before we can start profitably trading, something that we have been unable to do since the start of the pandemic," he added.

"We also risk losing out on the substantial amount of trade that comes with the Euros, a disappointment for us and for our customers that were looking forward getting that matchday atmosphere back.

Tory MP says country should have unlocked on June 21

"The business rates holiday ends on the June 30, dramatically increasing our outgoing costs by £250,000 a day at a time when we will be losing millions every day in trade due to capacity constraints."

Industry trade body UKHospitality also called for significant financial support, warning that businesses will fail without a strong plan from the Chancellor.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the group, said: "This four-week delay to lifting restrictions will cost the sector around £3 billion in sales, put at risk 300,000 jobs and have a knock-on impact on bookings throughout the summer and into the autumn.

"Simply put, if the supports provided by the Chancellor are not sustained and adjusted, businesses will fail and getting this far will count for nought."

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