While lockdown-weary Brits have been looking forward to pubs reopening on April 12, it has now emerged that only around one in six boozers will be opening their doors on the glorious day.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), a lack of space for outdoor drinking will make it economically unviable for 83% of pubs to open.
Calculations published by the BBPA say that although 75% of British boozers have a beer garden, or some other outside space for customers, less than half would have enough space to make opening up just for outdoor service economically worthwhile.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, says that the current plan represents a huge financial hit to landlords, and even pubs that do open their beer gardens on the big day will be at the mercy of the unpredictable British weather.
“This would result in a loss of turnover to the sector of £1.5 billion when compared to trading in normal times,” she says. “That is far from reopening and recovering.”
“Even if some pubs did try and open outdoors only in April, all it would take is some heavy rain and they would find it has all been for nothing,” she added.
“For many pubs, gardens are at the back and the only way to access them is through the inside. And of course, toilet facilities would still need to be provided.
“We question the government's thinking behind this and suggest they consult with us as a sector on it.
The association wants pubs to be treated like other non-essential retail premises able to re-open fully, inside and outside, Sky reports.
Retail stores will also benefit from extended opening hours, with all shops having “the flexibility to open until 10pm Monday to Saturday,” according to a Government announcement.
The Covid passports, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has backed for use in large venues such as concerts and sports stadiums, could also be introduced in pubs.
He says the documents could give business managers much needed confidence that they could relax social distancing measures.
“When it comes to trying to make sure that we give maximum confidence to business and to customers here in the UK,” he said at an event in Middlesborough, “there are three things: your immunity, whether you’ve had it before, so you’ve got natural antibodies anyway; whether you’ve been vaccinated; and then, of course, whether you’ve had a test. And so those three things working together will, I think, be useful.”
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, along with some 40 Conservative MPS, has questioned the introduction of the passports, calling the idea “against the British instinct.”
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is part of a cross-party alliance with several Liberal Democrat MPs to oppose the Covid identity documents.
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