The vast proportion of England will be in tiers 2 and 3 when lockdown ends next week, with just Cornwall, Scilly, and the Isle of Wight in tier 1.
The full listing of areas and their tiers can be seen here.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said the news for pubs was particularly devastating in the run-up to Christmas, contributing, among other things to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation for many people.
CAMRA chairman, Nik Antona, said: “CAMRA has been clear — we do not think that evidence has been produced to justify extra restrictions on hospitality, and particularly wet-led pubs, but if the government wants to proceed, they must announce more financial help.
“It is really very simple — hospitality businesses have been singled out for extra restrictions, so they must be given dedicated support. This needs to take the form of increased grant funding to cover rent and costs, and include an extension to the business rates holiday, and an extension of the VAT cut to alcoholic drinks.
“This is vital to ensure that communities will have locals to return to in 2021 and can once again reap the social and wellbeing benefits of pub-going.”
The British Beer and Pub Association says that 16,454 pubs will be forced to close as they are in tier 3 regions. Of the 21,091 pubs that are in regions classified as tier 2, 13,920 pubs will either remain closed because they don’t serve substantial meals, or will be financially unviable due to the impact on revenue of the additional restrictions, including no household mixing and only serving alcohol with meals.
At present, grants for pubs are as low as £1,300 a month — not even enough to cover basic fixed costs. This, the BBPA says, means many will be forced to close unless the Government changes its approach, or provides them with the level of grants they need, like it did during the first lockdown.
Chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “With 99% of the country under tighter tier 2 or tier 3 restrictions, there will be carnage unless the government acts immediately. Pubs face full closure if they are drinks led or in tier 3. We need the government to recognise the impact of these restrictions and urgently provide more financial support.
“We cannot overstate how serious the situation is currently facing our staff, communities and businesses. The future of hundreds of breweries, thousands of pubs, and tens of thousands of jobs hangs in the balance. The focal point of countless communities in every region of the UK could be lost forever, the social consequences of that do not bear thinking about.”
‘We expect reasonable compensation from government’
William Lees-Jones, managing director of JW Lees, said: “We are feeling very disappointed by the government’s current attitude towards pubs, especially when we have made our pubs safe places to be with investment and training. We are bearing the financial brunt of the winter plan, with all of JW Lees tenants paying no rent, beer stocks built up ready for Christmas, and pubs ready to re-open next week.
“We expect reasonable compensation from government since the current grants and furlough support in no way make up for the pub sector being sacrificed at our busiest time of the year. We estimate that the current proposed measures will cost JW Lees around £2 million which is one third of a normal year’s annual profits owing to the timing of the restrictions.”
UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “The new tier system will deliver another huge blow to hospitality, with 98% of trade now happening in tier 2 or 3 regions. This will see £7.8 billion of trading wiped out, compared to last year, if the restrictions last all of December.
“These are safe spaces for people to meet, relax, and socialise, and the sector is desperate to get staff back to work, open their doors and, in the long term, diminish reliance on the public purse and begin driving economic recovery.
“The new tiers will see over 120,000 venues across England placed into tier 2, with tens of thousands of these forced to close as they are unable to provide a table meal, either physically or financially. This affects the employment of nearly 1.5 million people. Under this severe a restriction, 94% of our members say they will be unviable or trading at a loss.
“For the 38,000 businesses in tier 3, employing over 540,000, there is no option but to provide take-away or close altogether.
“We still have not seen any evidence that hospitality venues — which have invested great time, effort, and money to making their spaces COVID-secure — are a problem area in terms of infection, so it seems unfair and arbitrary that hospitality is being dealt such a harsh hand. According to a recent UKH survey, 72% of visitors to hospitality were satisfied with the safety of our venues, compared to just 11% who were not.
“It is now more vital than ever that the government provides urgent further financial support for this sector. If it does not, we are looking at huge numbers of job losses, businesses permanently closed, and the landscape of hospitality in this country fundamentally degraded for the foreseeable future.
“If we want to see businesses survive, then we desperately need a replacement for the Job Retention Bonus Scheme and for the government to extend the rent moratoria and broker a solution to tackle the issue of rent debt that has built up. If we want to give those businesses that do survive this winter a better chance at succeeding next year, then the VAT cut and businesses rates holiday must now be extended, and grants provided to support businesses, paid out at the earliest opportunity.”