South West campaigners from CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) and the Campaign for Pubs have joined forces to urge people to support their local pubs when they are able to open their indoor spaces to customers from 17 May.
The Government confirmed on Monday 10 May that, as a part of the road map back to normal life, pubs can allow customers back inside to enjoy food and drink from next week – the ‘rule of six’ or up to two households limitation will apply.
Commenting on the many challenges pubs have faced since the first lock down 14 months ago and since reopening outside areas, CAMRA’s Regional Director for the South West Peter Bridle said: “While there was much reporting of pub gardens being very busy when customers were allowed back into outdoor spaces from 12 April, this did not tell the whole story. Many pubs do not have large outdoor areas and it would have been unviable for them to reopen while this limiting option was in place. And, when the weather turned cold and wet, many customers stayed away from those pubs that did reopen.
“This has added to the many challenges faced by pubs over the last 14 months. There is no doubt that the COVID pandemic has had a terrible effect on many people and businesses alike. The hospitality sector has been particularly badly hit. We hope that the public can enjoy the social and wellbeing benefits of being back inside the local – not just in its beer garden.”
Many publicans have built up substantial debts due to being forced to close and a lack of Government support. While there were loans available and the furlough scheme which were appreciated, these were far from sufficient to mitigate the loss of income coupled with the ongoing overheads for such a very long period.
As the pandemic went through various phases, publicans were faced with draconian restrictions which were unfair and unevidenced. Whilst this took place, many pubs nationally were shutting down permanently and staff were made redundant. The sad fact is that once a pub shuts very rarely can they open again.”
Alastair Kerr from the Campaign for Pubs said: “The hospitality sector and in particular, pubs, have had their worst trading year on record and with the continued trading restrictions forced upon pubs, they will and are struggling to survive. Pubs are a corner stone of our society, a bed rock of our communities and a staple of our culture and we should all pull together to ensure that pubs survive and thrive during and after this pandemic. Pubs have faced the brunt of the restrictions that have been enforced by this Government, often with no evidence to back them up, and now more than ever they need all the support they can get. The Campaign for Pubs continues to promote, support and fight for pubs, publicans and their customers all over the UK.”
Cheltenham publican Paul Cook, owner of The Angry Parrot Micropub, which opened for the first time just days before the first national lockdown, said: “In our opinion the hospitality sector has been unfairly targeted by Government. The evidence used to justify keeping us closed is lacking and we are unable to see the difference between having a coffee inside or having a drink inside a pub. Cheltenham has a vibrant and eclectic mix of pubs. We need to be able to open without restrictions as we like many, are so small. Public safety is paramount however with the success of the rollout of vaccine program – the UK needs life returning back to normal in order for both personal and professional relationships to thrive.”
Peter Bridle concluded: “Pubs are vital for community cohesion in many areas. We have seen thousands close in recent years and many of these, although viable as pub businesses, have been converted to other use depriving locals of a place to meet and socialise. We hope that communities will take advantage of now being able to enjoy safely a pubs offering be it indoors or in a pub garden. It is a cliché, but it is the reality with pubs like never before – use it or lose it.
“What this pandemic has proved is how much the hospitality industry gives back to the government financially and how pubs play such an important part in our way of life. From quiet pubs, pubs with music, pubs where you can play a sport or watch sport, pubs where you can dine and much more.
“Now pubs can open up more, we need to focus on how to save our locals. The public can play its part in saving this great British institution by using them. Pubs are the hub of the community.”
GOVERNMENT ADVICE: Step 3 – from 17 May
Following the move to Step 3, you will be able to reopen indoor areas of your venues. You will be able to serve customers in groups of up to 6 or 2 households indoors, or in groups of up to 30 outdoors.
If your venue serves alcohol, table service will be required. Even if no alcohol is ordered, this means customers must order, be served and eat/drink while seated. Indoor entertainment is allowed.
This guidance will be kept up to date as we move through the steps of the roadmap. These are the FAQs from UKH/BBPA/BII – https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/FAQs