By James Calder, chief executive, SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers)

This weekend, ministers will decide the final details of the roadmap out of lockdown. Media speculation today suggests that non-essential retail will come out before hospitality, which is untenable.

James Calder SIBA
SIBA chief executive, James Calder. Photograph: SIBA

Hospitality has repeatedly and consistently shown it is safe, and with the top nine vaccine groups on track to be vaccinated by mid-April there is no reason why pubs cannot re-open, in full, in May. 

If we have to wait until July for a full return to normality, then many hundreds of brewery businesses will not survive these months of sub-optimal trading. 

Survey data from SIBA shows that, on average, breweries are burning through £5,000 a month. Between now and then we need to see the chancellor and the other devolved administrations approve grants akin to those in Scotland, of between £10k and £30k, dependent upon brewery size. 

It would be a travesty that, after the sector shrank 34% last year, and after all the resilience and adaptability craft brewing has demonstrated, that now, as we approach the end, many more businesses fail due to a lack of support and further, unnecessary restrictions. 

Craft brewing can and will be part of the engine of recovery, contributing millions to GDP and millions more to the Exchequer. But we cannot do that if businesses fail right at this final hurdle.


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