Greene King’s chief executive Nick Mackenzie has described the new “tougher” tier system announced this week by Boris Johnson as a “crushing blow” for the pub sector.
Mr Mackenzie, whose company runs 3,000 pubs in the UK, said the measures were a bitter pill to swallow given how much it had spent making its pubs Covid-safe since the summer.
Pubs and restaurants in Tier 2 will only be allowed to serve alcohol with a “substantial meal”, while those in Tier 3 are limited to takeaway and delivery only.
He stated: “Yet again, the UK pubs sector must pick itself up off the floor after another crushing blow. We’ve invested millions of pounds to make our pubs safe throughout this pandemic but today it feels like pubs have been unfairly singled out once again with increased restrictions that will make pubs across the country unviable through the most important month of the year.
“Pubs play a key role in combatting loneliness and isolation and we have followed all the government’s requirements to ensure our pubs are well-regulated and Covid-secure environments for friends and families to stay connected as we approach Christmas.”
Mr Mackenzie said safety was paramount but insisted restrictions must be proportionate and not put hundreds of thousands of people’s jobs at risk across the hospitality industry.
“We welcome the news about the curfew but it has limited benefit when pubs are closed in Tier 3 and unable to serve alcohol unless it’s with food in Tier 2.
“We ask the government to reconsider disproportionate measures, such as banning the sale of alcohol in Tier 2 unless it’s with a substantial meal, and work constructively with the hospitality sector to find solutions that not only protect lives but also protect livelihoods through to next spring.”