Greg Mulholland, Dawn Hopkins, and Paul Crossman, from the Campaign for Pubs, on the new post-lockdown tiers announcement.

Top, left to right: Paul Crossman, Dawn Hopkins, and Greg Mulholland

The cam[aign has expressed dismay and anger over the new restrictions for pubs in the government’s revised tier system. Under the plans, pubs in tier 2 would only be allowed to open when serving a ‘substantial meal’, and in tier 3, pubs would be closed altogether, other than for take-aways.

Campaign director, Greg Mulholland: “It is disgraceful the way the government is singling out pubs. Without proper support, the plans announced will close pubs and put many families at risk of hardship.

“It is devastating for pubs and publicans that pubs will be closed altogether in tier 3 and in also in tier 2 unless they serve substantial meals. As well as this not being backed by evidence, it also is grossly unfair to thousands of well-run pubs that serve their communities so well and have shown that they can, and have, operated safely.

“December trade is vital to pubs, and without this many pubs are at risk of going under. We believe that the government should stop scapegoating pubs and allow them to open as happened safely in July and August. Anything other than this means many pubs can’t afford to open and the current level of government grants doesn’t even cover rent or mortgage payments and fixed costs, never mind compensate for the loss of trade. So if the Government does go ahead with these rules, it must now offer proper support at a much higher level and support pubs throughout 2021.

“We hope that MPs will speak up for pubs and common sense and demand a change of approach to a more holistic strategy that factors in the effect of restrictions on mental health, livelihoods, and lives — something that simply is not properly factored in at the moment. We also need an urgent announcement of proper support for pubs and publicans, or the future of many of our iconic local pubs is at stake.”

‘We are being used as scapegoats’

Vice-chair of the campaign, and licensee of the Rose Inn, Norwich, Dawn Hopkins: “The changes in the tier system will have a devastating effect on not only our pub industry, but also on our small brewers, our supply chain, our staff, and our families.

“Where is the sense in restricting alcohol sales in pubs, yet not in supermarkets, moving drinking to uncontrolled and unregulated environments? There is no science or statistics to back up this move. We are being used as scapegoats, and without proper support it will be our livelihoods, our communities, and our families that will suffer.”

Paul Crossman, campaign chair and licensee of three pubs in York: “It is deeply disappointing that those working in pubs and hospitality have once again had to find out the future of their businesses through leaks to the media, but even more disappointing is the content of those leaks.

“Following promising initial news of the easing of the curfew came the hammer blow of a new stricter tier system, which will make it impossible for many pubs to re-open in a viable way at this critical time of year, or indeed at all if they do not serve food. Many such wet-led pubs are precisely the ones that operate at the heart of our communities, providing companionship and social cohesion, and combating the loneliness and isolation that have reportedly reached epidemic proportions during recent weeks and months.

“The government is giving every impression not only that it does not understand or care about our community pubs, but that it is actively targeting them with increasingly unreasonable restrictions for which they are still seemingly unable to provide any real evidence.

“These small businesses have willingly gone to great lengths to make their staff and customers as safe as possible in order to help combat the spread of this dreadful virus, and have implemented every measure requested by the government, including running the track and trace system when there was still no official one in place. The government’s own statistics have consistently shown that these efforts have succeeded in making hospitality one of the safest sectors of the economy.

“The news that our businesses will now be subject to even harsher restrictions has come as a bitter blow to us all, including thousands of our small independent suppliers who have also struggled to remain in business up to this point. The government must now provide proper tailored support that will cover all the costs of continued closure or restricted trade, including real action to deal with those unsympathetic landlords or lenders who even now continue to flout the government’s ineffectual voluntary code of practice by imposing outrageous property costs which now constitute an urgent existential threat.”

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