More support for hospitality businesses needed as second lockdown looms

02 November 2020

From Thursday 5 November, all hospitality businesses must close. They can operate a takeaway service, but alcohol is exempt

Following Saturday's (31 October) u-turn announcement from PM Boris Johnson, all hospitality businesses will have to close from Thursday, as England heads into its second Covid-19 lockdown. As before, businesses will be able to operate a takeaway service, but this time alcohol will not be allowed.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also announced the extension of the furlough scheme.

Hospitality bodies have expressed the need for more support as businesses are struggling due to curfew restrictions and the rule of six.

'A second lockdown is a devastating blow for an industry that is currently on its knees,' commented Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) Nik Antona. 'Pubs have already invested thousands to reopen Covid-safe environments despite facing seriously reduced incomes. Simply put, the new lockdown couldn’t come at a worse time. 

While an extension to the furlough scheme is welcomed, it does not go far enough

Nik Antona

'The Government must introduce a robust support package for all pubs and breweries – regardless of their current rateable value. While an extension to the furlough scheme is welcomed, it does not go far enough. We need more details of how much support will be offered along with a clear roadmap out of lockdown to ensure local jobs and businesses are not lost forever.' 

UKHospitality is also pushing for more support, also citing the plight of nightclubs who have not even been allowed to reopen after the first nationwide lockdown. 

'Public health objectives are, rightly, the motive for the new measures, and for that reason we entirely support whatever proportionate action is necessary.

The costs to hospitality businesses of a second lockdown will be even heavier than the first, coming after periods of forced closure, the accumulation of mass debt and then significantly lower trading due to the restrictions of recent weeks. The sector was hit hardest and first, and this recent shutdown will hurt for months and years to come. The extension of furlough for a further month does help to protect our workforce during this difficult time.

'If hospitality, the sector that is our country’s third largest employer, is to survive and help drive economic recovery, it will need equivalent – or more – support than that of the first lockdown.

'Hospitality businesses have already been pushed to the limits, with many closures already. For those that have survived, viability is on a knife edge, as is the future of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on hospitality, including through its supply chain, right across the country.

'It is critical that businesses are given a lifeline to survive the winter, before being given the support to enter a revival phase in 2021, as the nation’s prospects improve. A clear roadmap out of lockdown and through the tiers will also be vital for businesses to plan their survival, and the safeguarding of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

'It is important to remember that some parts of hospitality, such as nightclubs, have not even been allowed to re-open. The support for those, now that potential reopening has been kicked further into the future, must be redoubled to ensure that they are not lost forever.'

Make no mistake, this could be the final straw for thousands of pubs and brewers

Emma McClarkin

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), also points out the effect on supply chains as their on-trade partners can't operate.

'As a sector we are of course devastated to have to close our pubs and are fearful for their future, but we recognise the situation and that the spread of Covid-19 is serious. 

'Make no mistake, this could be the final straw for thousands of pubs and brewers. It will also create major disruption to our supply chain partners whose businesses are now also at severe risk.  

'The level of financial support will need to be same, if not greater, than that provided for the first lockdown earlier this year. This means grants for ALL pubs sufficient to cover ongoing fixed costs, and compensation grants for Britain’s brewers who will also be permanently devastated by the lockdown. The news of the extension of the full furlough scheme for this lockdown period is welcome, but we await the full detail of it, and will need a full support plan far beyond the lockdown period to save our great British pubs and brewers. 

'A clear, early signal on an economic stimulus package from April next year is a vital element of this. This includes extending the business rates holiday and the hospitality VAT cut, and support on beer duty. 

'As ever, we stand ready to work with Government on such a plan. We served our communities well throughout the first lockdown, and we want to continue to serve communities across the United Kingdom through this closure and for many years to come. Support from the Government with investment in the pub and brewing sector will reap rewards economically and socially. Only such support will ensure that we can come together once more to enjoy the warm welcome of the great British pub with a great British pint once this crisis has passed.'

Imbibe will be reporting on the issues around not allowing takeaway alcohol imminently. Keep an eye on imbibe.com and @imbibeuk on Instagram.

Related content

News |  People & Places

Hospitality industry innovates as second lockdown begins

With the last lockdown proving the industry's ability to turn on a dime, this time around proves no different.

News |  People & Places

BREAKING: New government support for hospitality businesses and jobs revealed

Cash grants of up to £2,100 per month for every businesses under tier 2 restrictions, plus changes to the Job Support Scheme and doubling the grants for the self employed.

News |  People & Places

UKHospitality survey highlights flaws in support for hospitality businesses

Hospitality companies were asked about their experiences when it came to accessing loans, insurance claims and the speed of grant payments, and staff issues during the coronavirus crisis.

News |  People & Places

'It's frozen us in limbo': On-trade reacts to restriction on takeaway alcohol during second lockdown

In the wake of the PM's announcement that hospitality venues are to shut again dur to Covid-19, Clinton Cawood talks to the on-trade about the specific exemption of alcohol for takeaway.