Prime Minister Johnson’s message on Monday advising people to avoid pubs through social distancing has sparked much confusion through lack of clarity of his message. Interpreted by many as notice of the advice becoming law soon.
Followed yesterday by Rishi Sunak’s announcement of measures the Government is taking to support businesses through COVID-19, has left many grateful of the support but also fearful of implementation timelines.
British Beer & Pub Association, Chief Executive, Emma McClarkin said: “We recognise as a sector that we are in unprecedented times and are prepared to play our part, but whilst we welcome the measures outlined today, they do not deal with the immediate cash flow and liquidity problems our industry faces.
“Local Authorities paying out grants to pub businesses is welcome, but how quickly these are administered is critical to keeping pubs in business and employees in jobs beyond the coming weeks.
“The rates relief announced for pubs is welcome in principle, but we urgently need greater clarity on the detail. Such relief provides little comfort for pubs that have no income.
“Without an urgent cash injection our sector will need to reduce its biggest cost, labour. It also won’t be able to take advantage of the planning changes proposed by Government today enabling pubs to help feed the nation through delivery.
“The Government literally has 24 hours to put together a pub specific package to prevent irreversible closures and job losses. The pub industry stands ready to work with the Government to create the rescue package that is needed.”
The reality of the situation currently is that many pubs stay open. This is understandable from some perspective, but does fly in the face of medical advice from the government’s scientific advisors. Clarity is needed on both health and economic grounds, and fast.