Takeaway pints ban could be ‘death knell for many pubs’ and £9,000 handout is not enough, beer campaigners say
- Camra chairman Nik Antona said the Government’s one-off grant is ‘not enough’
- He added supermarkets and off-licences had an ‘unfair advantage’ amid rules
- Boris Johnson announced lockdown which bans the sale of takeaway alcohol
A ban on takeaway pints during lockdown could be the ‘death knell for many pubs’, beer campaigners say, as they warn a £9,000 handout is ‘nowhere near enough’.
Boris Johnson last night announced new nationwide coronavirus restrictions, which ban pubs and restaurants in England from selling alcohol for takeaway or delivery.
Camra chairman Nik Antona today insisted the Government’s one-off grant support of up to £9,000 for hospitality businesses was ‘welcome’ but added: ‘It is nowhere near enough to cover the haemorrhaging costs for pubs and breweries.’
He said: ‘The national lockdown is yet another devastating blow for an already struggling industry, which follows hot on the heels of nearly a year of restrictions, curfews and forced closures.
Boris Johnson yesterday announced new nationwide coronavirus restrictions, which ban pubs and restaurants from selling alcohol for takeaway or delivery. Pictured: The Unicorn Pub in Wollaston
‘It is clear now more than ever that the Government must introduce a new, long-term and sector-specific financial support package to help these businesses survive the coming months.
‘While one-off grant support is welcome, it is nowhere near enough to cover the haemorrhaging costs for pubs and breweries that don’t see any end in sight.’
Rishi Sunak’s latest support package is set to cost the treasury £4.6 billion, but the Camra chairman said supermarkets and off-licences had an ‘unfair advantage’ following confusion over whether pubs would be able to operate on a ‘level playing field’.
Mr Antona added: ‘What is particularly concerning in the latest announcement has been the confusion around whether pubs will be able to operate on a level playing field with supermarkets and off-licences during this lockdown – as they have been able to previously.
‘Takeaway sales, in sealed containers, for people to take home, were a real lifeline for the trade in previous lockdowns and restricting that route to market now would be a death knell for many pubs.
‘This will once again provide an unfair advantage to supermarkets and off-licences that don’t face similar restrictions.’
The manager of The Unicorn pub in Wollaston, Stourbridge (pictured: Mary Bagley) expressed sadness at the decision to stop the sale of takeaway beer
The manager of The Unicorn pub in Wollaston, Stourbridge also lamented the decision to stop the sale of takeaway beer, which was permitted under the previous lockdown.
Mary Bagley said recent sales of pints in sealed cartons near the front door of the Bathams Brewery pub had been conducted literally over a barrel to ensure social distancing – with a card reader for payments.
She said: ‘It was nice to speak to people that we hadn’t seen for a while and that’s all going to stop.’
Ms Bagley, who is on furlough, added: ‘It’s sad, really sad, but you can’t do anything about it.’
Urging the Government to provide a ‘dedicated and decent financial support package’, Mr Antona said: ‘The Government must recognise that local pubs are a force for good and play an important role in bringing people together, tackling loneliness and social isolation, and supporting their local communities.
‘When this nightmare is over, they will be vital to the nation’s healing process – so long as they are still standing.
Camra chairman Nik Antona (pictured) today insisted the Government’s one-off grant support of up to £9,000 for hospitality businesses was ‘welcome’ but added: ‘It is nowhere near enough to cover the haemorrhaging costs for pubs and breweries’
‘A new, dedicated and decent financial support package must reach our pubs and breweries quickly to save them from permanent closure and help hard-working licensees through this incredibly difficult time.’
Also responding to the latest lockdown restrictions and financial support, Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) chief executive James Calder said: ‘This is simply the next blow after months of struggle for England’s community pubs and small breweries.
‘For the first time in lockdown, the Government intends to ban takeaway alcohol sales, which have been a lifeline to these small businesses.
‘Sales through takeaway, click and collect and drive-through have enabled many to just about survive up to now.
‘This reversal in policy directly discriminates against small businesses while allowing supermarkets to continue to sell beer from global breweries.’
Mr Calder added: ‘Yet again, there is no guarantee they will have access to the latest round of funding and will have to rely on the mercy of discretionary funding which have not always been forthcoming for these struggling businesses.
‘This is increasingly at odds with the support provided by the devolved administrations – Scotland is introducing a direct package of support for brewers and Northern Ireland has extended business rates holidays.
‘Small breweries and community pubs need an urgent guarantee they can continue to offer takeaway, click and collect and drive-through sales and that there is a proper package of support to help small breweries before it is too late.’
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