Hospitality bosses fear more job losses and economic pain for operators after it emerged that Boris Johnson is set to announce a delay to the end of Covid restrictions later today.
‘Freedom Day’ had been earmarked for 21 June, but senior ministers have reportedly agreed to push that back by at least four weeks following a surge in the Delta variant.
Industry leaders insist the move will be a hammer blow to the hospitality sector just a month after businesses were finally allowed to reopen indoors.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has been a vociferous campaigner for the removal of all restrictions on 21 June – with a recent survey of its members underlining the challenge they face to recover lost sales.
It said that pubs traded 20% lower in their first week of reopening indoors than the same period before the pandemic due to restrictions and social distancing measures.
The average pub in the UK turns over approximately £470,000 per year, meaning that if trade continues to stay at 80% of normal, the average pub would lose £94,000 in turnover over a year.
With the average pint costing £3.81 in the UK, it would mean the average pub would need to sell 24,672 more pints over a year to make up that loss in turnover.
Currently, pubs are required to ensure one metre-plus social distancing is in place, operate by table service only and enforce the wearing of face masks other than when sat at a table inside or if outdoors.
Group sizes are also limited indoors to just six people and bar or standing drinking is not permitted.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said that the damage the restrictions are having on the viability of pubs, brewers and hospitality businesses is impeding their recovery and threatening their very survival.
“Pubs trade on incredibly small margins, so being 20% down on normal times is huge and incredibly concerning. Over a year, it would equate to £94,000 in lost turnover. To make that lost turnover up, the average pub would need to sell 24,672 more pints over a year.
“What is especially worrying is that there was a lot of enthusiasm to visit the pub when they first reopened indoors. When that initial enthusiasm to return to the local cools down, trade could get even worse.
“Without restrictions removed, thousands of pubs remain unviable and could still be lost forever despite being back open for now. As more and more individuals receive their vaccination, if the government’s four tests for the removal of restrictions are met it must remove them on 21 June. Otherwise, more grant support is going to be essential to tie our pubs over.”