Nick Griffin, chief executive of the Licensees Association, has written to business secretary Alok Sharma to highlight the important role pubs have and continue to play in keeping the public safe and covid in check.

The letter, counter signed by 30 leading pub operators, reminds Mr Sharma that pub operators have invested heavily in training staff, changing layouts, promoting social distancing, and abiding by the guidelines that have been asked of them by the UK government.

Nick said: “Rather being seen as part of the solution, it is starting to look like the sector is being labelled part of the problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is our strongly-held belief that pubs and restaurants are among the safest environments for the public right now. This is evidenced in the number of cases our members, and others within the sector, have had on premises which remains incredibly small when contrasted to national levels.

“The introduction of a nationwide 10pm curfew is, in our opinion, a retrograde step. Only applying these measures to pubs and restaurants, and not other off-trade outlets where alcohol can be purchased post-10pm, will inevitably lead to people drinking in unregulated and unsafe environments without supervision.”

The signatories include: founder of Beds & Bars, Keith Knowles OBE; former BII chairman Anthony Pender, of Yummy Pubs, and a UKHopsitality board member; Paul Wigham, of All Our Bars; plus 27 other directors/owners.

Nick said: “Our membership of pub operators feels strongly we need to be putting the case for them forward and promoting the excellent work they have undertaken to keep their staff and their customers safe. The recent statistics show that just 5% of all cases have involved a venue which serves food and drink. But even this, we understand, could include [quick service restaurants] and fast-food venues.

“Our sector needs to be heard, and the Secretary of State should have all the facts available to him to make informed decisions.”

The full text of the letter can be read at licensees.org/

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