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Seven in 10 operators fear their businesses could become unviable next year

Empty kitchen

More than two-thirds of hospitality and pub businesses fear they could collapse next year without further support from the government.

A joint survey by pub and hospitality trade bodies the British Beer & Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality revealed that 72% of sector businesses expect to become unviable and close in 2021.

The survey found that the tiering system used across England was particularly damaging to pubs and hospitality businesses.

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Under tier one restrictions, only 25% of operators said they could turn a profit. Under tier two restrictions, 76% said they would be unviable or operating at a loss.

For those pub and hospitality businesses having to operate under tier three restrictions, the survey found that 94% would be unviable or operating at a loss.

Heading into December, a key month for the very survival of pubs and hospitality businesses due to the increased trade of the festive period, the trade bodies are calling on the government to adapt the current tier restrictions by relaxing the ban on household mixing in tier two, alongside a modest extension to the 10pm curfew.

They are also asking for the government to allow wet-led pubs to re-open in tier three without having to serve food as well, provided they follow the other rules.

The medium risk tier one should also be relaxed further, according to the trade bodies.

They say these measures are needed to help enable communities, friends and families to safely gather this Christmas in venues which are following Government guidelines, serving to tables, enforcing social distancing and working with NHS test and trace, while helping ensure the sector’s very survival by maximising its ability to viably trade in this critical period.

As pub and hospitality businesses operating under these restrictions are so affected, the trade bodies say the government must also provide them with larger grants as the current level of support is simply not enough for them to survive on.

They argue that grants in line with those given during the first lockdown are needed to support businesses who are uncertain over how long they could be in tier three especially.

A joint spokesperson for the three organisations said: “The evidence is here to see of the devastating, long-term impact the government’s restrictions are having on hospitality and pub businesses.

“Without a change in approach and more support from Government, much of our sector could be gone within a year – that means businesses and jobs lost plus much-loved venues closed forever.

“We recognise that local restrictions will need to be based on local risk levels, but to ensure our sector can bring people together properly this Christmas and beyond, and crucially provide them a safe environment to socialise in, we believe the tier system should be fine-tuned.

“That means relaxing the ban on more than one household in tier two and extending the 10pm hard curfew cut-off point.

“Those pubs and hospitality venues facing tier three restrictions currently have an impossible task of trying to remain viable as businesses. In recognition of this, the Government must enable wet-led pubs to re-open in tier three where they do not serve food, as well as significantly enhance the grant support for those businesses not viable across all tiers, but especially those in tier three. This will ensure their very survival so they can re-open once more when we are through the worst of this crisis.”

Number of pubs disappearing from the industry every month remains cause for alarm

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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