Coronavirus: Pubs and restaurants ‘among the last to exit lockdown’

More support required if closure period extended, says trade group

GREATER support for pubs is needed if they are to survive an extended closure period, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said.

The trade group said measures such as removing the £51,000 rateable value cap for grants and extending the furlough scheme will be required if pubs are to remain closed for a prolonged period.

The organisation’s comments come after cabinet minister Michael Gove said yesterday that pubs, restaurants and hotels “will be among the last to exit the lockdown”.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (April 19), Gove said the government “wants to make sure that we make a balanced judgement about which restrictions can be relaxed at what time”.

Asked by Marr if hotels, pubs and restaurants would reopen before winter, Gove said: “The inference that I draw from your question is that areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lockdown. Yes, that is true, they will be among the last.

“This virus has changed so much; it’s a new virus of great potency and lethality; it spreads remarkably fast.

“We want to ensure that we can get on top of it. We also want to ensure that the economic life of the nation, the social life of the nation, can return over time. But even as some restrictions are lifted, the way in which our schools, the way in which our shops and factories operate will change as a result of what we know about this virus and what we know about social distancing.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said unless “vital measures” are taken by the government, “many pubs will – unnecessarily and through no fault of their own – close for good and cease to exist once lockdown restrictions are lifted”.

“If pubs are going to be the last to reopen, then it’s only right the government gives extra support to them to help ensure their survival,” she said.

“We are clear that unless the government gives specific support to pubs now, thousands of them in communities across the UK could be lost for good. And with them hundreds of thousands of jobs too.”