17 Dec Fears bars and restaurants face three months of restrictions with 21,000 venues in England currently under Tier 3
Pubs and restaurants’ future looked bleak today with landlords worrying if they would ever be able to open again.
Millions of pints have had to be poured away in London as it was thrown into Tier 3 this morning.
And huge amounts of food – brought in for ‘substantial meals’ to allow places to open – had to be binned.
One landlord revealed it had been forced to let staff go after hiring them last week ahead of a predicted Christmas spell open.
And a leader for the pub industry warned that 270million pints would be lost by the sector.
It came as the plans to let people in Britain to gather in ‘unregulated’ homes over Christmas was branded ‘a mockery’.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), told MailOnline it predicted huge losses: ‘It will be millions of pints. We wasted 70 million in the first lockdown.
‘Now with the trade being closed it’s the equivalent of 270 million pints that are being lost to the sector. That puts a real picture on how much we stand to lose. If there are any further lockdowns that would be another issue.
‘There is great uncertainty for the industry right now. Going in and out of Tiers on a regular basis is even more uncertainty to be added in. Having to make sure your business model can keep flexing and adapting all of the time. We are expecting that we will be under some kind of restriction for at least three months.
‘Tier 3 restrictions are catastrophic for the beer and pub sector. This will force and accelerate the closing of many pubs and the loss of many jobs.
‘As soon as we can possibly come out of the Tiers, we absolutely have to.
‘We are anticipating there will be something to pay for after allowing households to mix in private settings on the other side. That could be a further lockdown for the beer and pub sector. It would be devastating.
‘We are praying for a roadmap. We hope there’s a roadmap to recovery that we can bank on from Easter. However, many of our businesses will have gone by then.’
Earlier Ms McClarkin told MPs that ‘the ban on actual household mixing inside our venues within the tiering system is absolutely devastating for the pub sector’.
She told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that bringing people together is ‘what we do’, adding: ‘We are a community centre, a community hub and we’ve invested millions to make us Covid-secure.’
She continued: ‘It is actually making a mockery by banning us from allowing people to mix and meet together when the Government has now introduced a Christmas plan that allows them to do that in private, unregulated and unsafe settings where all bets are off.’
Meanwhile Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon which now has less than 400 of its 875 pubs across Britain still open, warned today that the ‘New Year promises carnage’ for hospitality.
It comes as London went into Tier Three at midnight along with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, shutting all pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Pub industry bosses say 56,000 jobs are now at risk in London with all 3,680 pubs in the capital now shut apart from a selection doing takeaway, with 8,000 of these jobs hit by Tier Three.
UKHospitality said 150,000 jobs were at risk after pubs and restaurants were forced to shut in London – and there are now fears over how long the closures will last.
The tougher Tier Two rules since the second lockdown ended have also left pubs in these areas facing a cash crunch of large rents, often high debt and low income.
Analysis by real estate advisers Altus Group said nearly 14,000 pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in the capital will now be closed or restricted to takeaway services, while more than 1,500 hotels and guest houses have also shut with limited exceptions.
The UK Cinema Association said more than 100 sites now had to close, while all West End theatres have shut despite only just reopening after the second lockdown.
Under Tier Three rules, hospitality businesses such as restaurants, pubs, cafes and coffee shops must close to sit-in customers and can only offer a takeaway service.
In Tier Two, people can go to the pub but must only do so with other members of their household or support bubble – although they can mix with others outside.
Ms McClarkin also questioned how pubs were making sure that people are not mixing indoors but emphasised: ‘We are publicans, not policemen.’
She told the committee: ‘The vast majority I have to say are abiding by those rules, and that’s pubs and pub-goers.’
‘We absolutely support enforcement measures. If pubs are flouting those rules then I think they should have action taken against them because they are undoing the absolutely sterling work the majority of pubs are doing,’ she added.
‘Inevitably we will rely on the information we’re given from customers and their ability and desire to want to comply with the rules.’
The next review on tiers will be on December 23, which is a week sooner than a review every 14 days, as the Government had previously committed.
Mr Martin told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The worry is that Government seems oblivious to the economic consequences of its actions.
‘Apart from two remote areas, all pubs in the UK are effectively shut, but about a third have opened as restaurants and will be lossmaking, since they’re not designed for that.
‘The financial elastic for hospitality is stretched to breaking point now – the New Year promises carnage.’
It comes as Rishi Sunak is expected to reject a plea by London’s mayor Sadiq Khan for a bailout for the hospitality industry after the capital was moved into Tier Three.
He called on the Chancellor to put a compensation scheme in place, guaranteeing to make up all lost income for the festive season based on last year’s returns.
But the Treasury said Mr Sunak had already announced support for hospitality firms and the funds on offer would not be increased.
A source said: ‘We’ve put in place £280billion worth of support in this pandemic to protect millions of jobs and businesses.
‘The furlough scheme has been extended through to March and businesses can apply for grants and Government-guaranteed loans as well as enjoying VAT holidays and business rates relief.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Monday that he was forced to put London into Tier Three along with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire in a bid to slow ‘sharp, exponential rises’ in coronavirus across all ages.
Theatre bosses said the new rules – which will also force them to close venues – will prove ‘devastating’.
Mr Khan said: ‘I don’t want London to be in Tier Three for a day longer than necessary. I am hugely concerned about the negative impact that the additional restrictions will have on jobs and many businesses that are already struggling to stay afloat.
‘We now urgently need much more government support for the sectors of our economy that are being hit the hardest, including hospitality, culture, and leisure.
‘It is crucial that ministers urgently put in place a compensation scheme for all lost income, based on last year’s returns, for any businesses affected by the further restrictions during this crucial festive period.’
Ros Morgan, Chief Executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, said it was extremely disappointing to see London moved to Tier 3.
She said: ‘Public health rightly remains the priority, but almost shutting down central London the week before Christmas will have a hugely damaging impact on already hard-hit sectors. When London succeeds, so does the rest of the UK. A weakened London in no way supports the levelling up agenda. London’s status as a global city makes it a national asset which we should be doing everything in our power to support.
‘Tier 3 is effectively another lockdown for the arts and cultural sector. Having worked hard to ensure COVID-safe measures were in place and some productions only opening up this week, last minute cancellations of productions will cause catastrophic financial difficulties for venues, producers and thousands of workers – especially the freelancers who make up 70% of the theatre workforce. We risk the near extinction of the arts and culture sector in one of the most culturally rich areas in the world, not only putting jobs at risk but permanently removing a piece of London’s cultural offer and the UK’s soft power abroad.
‘If culture is to survive, it needs immediate help and investment from the Government to ensure that jobs are maintained and institutions are kept afloat during periods of forced closure. There is an urgent need for a government-backed insurance scheme, as already provided to film and television, for compensation to mitigate losses incurred by productions forced to close, and for targeted support for freelance workers unable to take advantage of the furlough scheme. The sector will also need further specific long-term support measures when the Government allows large-scale gatherings once more.
‘We believe that London needs a clear roadmap out of this crisis. It’s good news that vaccines present an exit strategy from restrictions, and that it’s in sight. But that is still many months away. Our experience over the summer shows that footfall will not return instantly even when restrictions are lifted, and businesses will therefore need continued support so that they can play a role in helping drive London and the UK’s economic recovery.
‘If London is expected to go through a stop-start system of repeated lockdowns, then we need much clearer advice from government of what support businesses can expect so that they can plan effectively and efficiently.’
It comes as a senior minister said the Government is to press ahead with the easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas even though it will lead to an increase in the infection rate.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that it would be up to people to make a ‘personal judgment’ whether they wanted to meet up with vulnerable family members over the holiday period.
He suggested that some people may decide to ‘keep it small’ and put off larger gatherings until the spring, saying: ‘Easter can be the new Christmas.’
With 61 per cent of England’s population now living under the strictest measures, ministers were due to formally review which tiers are appropriate for each area.
A snap YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found 57 per cent believed the Christmas plans should be dropped and the current rules remain in place during the festive period.