Pub and hospitality trade bodies have revealed that 72% of businesses in their sector expect to become unviable and to close in 2021.

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The findings come from a survey of members of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), and UKHospitality, conducted by hospitality market research company CGA.

The survey found that the tiering system used across England was particularly damaging to pubs and hospitality businesses. Under tier 1 restrictions, only 25% of operators said they could turn a profit. Under tier 2 restrictions, 76% said they would be unviable or operating at a loss. For those pub and hospitality businesses having to operate under tier 3 restrictions, the survey found that 94% would be unviable or operating at a loss.

Heading into December — a key month for the survival of pubs and hospitality businesses due to the increased trade of the festive period — the trade bodies are calling on the government to adapt the current tier restrictions by relaxing the ban on household mixing in tier 2, alongside a modest extension to the 10pm curfew.

They are also asking for the government to allow wet-led pubs to re-open in tier 3 without having to serve food as well, provided they follow the other rules. The medium-risk tier 1 should also be relaxed further, according to the trade bodies.

They say these measures are needed to help enable communities, friends and families to safely gather this Christmas in venues which are following government guidelines, serving to tables, enforcing social distancing, and working with NHS test and trace, while helping to ensure the sector’s survival by maximising its ability to viably trade in this critical period.  

As pub and hospitality businesses operating under these restrictions are so affected, the trade bodies say the government must also provide them with larger grants as the current level of support is simply not enough for them to survive on. They say grants in line with those given during the first lockdown are needed to support businesses who are uncertain over how long they could be in tier three especially.

A spokesperson for the three organisations said: “The evidence is here to see of the devastating, long-term impact the government’s restrictions are having on hospitality and pub businesses. Without a change in approach and more support from government, much of our sector could be gone within a year — that means businesses and jobs lost plus much-loved venues closed forever.”

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