Trade associations reacted to claims that pubs in England may need to close again to allow schools to reopen in September, calling for more clarity on the matter and warning the government on its potentially devastating consequences
A claim that pubs in England may need to close again in a ‘trade-off’ that would allow schools to reopen in September was made by Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member Prof Graham Medley in a BBC interview over the weekend
Following the claim, housing secretary Robert Jenrick rejected the idea saying that ‘we don’t have plans to do that… we don’t want to do anything that is a blanket approach across the country’, during an interview on Times Radio.
There is only one thing more damaging than that initial close down order and that would be a premature, rushed decision to shut them again
British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief exec Emma McClarkin expressed her concern over the ambiguity, and urged the government to clarify if the closure of pubs is indeed being considered as a means to control the spread of coronavirus in the autumn: ‘Closing pubs just as they have reopened would be devastating for our sector,’ she told Imbibe, ‘and we are seeking urgent clarity from the government if they are seriously considering this. Careless talk costs pub jobs.’
Meanwhile, UKHospitality chief exec Kate Nicholls welcomed Jenrick’s response to Medley’s claims: ‘There has been no signal from the government linking pubs and the reopening of schools, only a reassurance from Robert Jenrick that there are no such plans. This is not an either/or situation and the government is well aware of the substantial financial and economic impacts a re-closing of venues would incur, inevitably resulting in permanent closures and significant job losses.’
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has stressed the potentially disastrous consequences that another closure of pubs would have on the brewing sector. ‘Pubs shutting has been devastating for landlords, brewers and customers. There is only one thing more damaging than that initial close down order and that would be a premature, rushed decision to shut them again,’ SIBA chief exec, James Calder, told Imbibe.
‘When the first lockdown hit our brewers, sales dropped 82% overnight. Another closure, if it comes, needs to be met with a much more robust decision-making process and package of support otherwise mass unemployment and poverty will follow.’