The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has responded to the prime minister’s announcement on the changes to social gathering rules that will affect hospitality venues.
In his speech on 9 September, PM Boris Johnson confirmed that the maximum number of people who can gather together will reduce from thirty to six, although this will exclude single households and support bubbles consisting already of more than six people.
In response to the latest restrictions, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “It is understandable that the government are concerned about the recent rise in Covid cases.
“This concern is recognised by our sector and we will play an active role in helping to manage this rise in infections – continuing to adhere to the current guidelines, as well as embracing the new ones.
“The changes to social gatherings will have an immediate cooling effect on public confidence to go out and visit our pubs, and will have a direct impact on trade that will be felt hard across an industry that is already struggling to get back on its feet.
“At such a delicate point in our recovery, after a steady start this summer, as we head into autumn and winter where we expect trade to already slow down, this is very concerning.
“Pubs and breweries will need much more support from the government if they are to survive. An extension on business rates relief, continuation of the VAT cut to food and soft drinks, a sector specific furlough extension and a significant beer duty cut are needed now.
“These measures, along with the welcomed compensation for businesses closed as a result of local lockdowns announced by The Treasury, will help pubs survive, protect jobs and ensure they can continue to serve our communities.
“Without this support from government, and a clear message that pubs remain open for business and that the public should support them, our sector is in for a very rough end to an already devastating year.”
The prime minister also announced the mandatory use of test and trace by hospitality businesses.
Emma added: “As one of the few sectors actively participating in test and trace, pubs have already been fully playing their part to ensure people follow the safety guidelines and contain the spread of the virus.
“Our sector will continue to play a leading role in supporting test and trace. All our members and the overwhelming majority of pubs across the UK are already using the test and trace system. In fact, pubs have been commended by Matt Hancock and Public Health England for their diligence and proactivity in working with NHS test and trace in England.
“We implore any pub not confident on if they are following the existing or new rules correctly to get in touch with us or one of the many trade associations out there who will be happy to help.
“Of course, it is important to remember that pub customers have a key role to play too in following the rules, and this means fully participating with test and trace.”