Pubs, bars, and brewers are pledging to continue to help the government tackle covid, but they’re seeking support as the sector recovers.

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In a speech yesterday, the prime minister confirmed that the maximum number of people who can gather together will reduce from 30 to six, although there are some exclusions. He also announced the mandatory use of test and trace by hospitality businesses.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “It is understandable that the government are concerned about the recent rise in covid cases. This concern is recognised by our sector and we will play an active role in helping government manage this rise in infections by continuing to adhere to the current guidelines as well as embracing the new ones. 

“It is important to understand that the changes to social gatherings … will have an immediate cooling effect on public confidence to go out and visit our pubs. And will have a direct impact on trade that will be felt hard across an industry that is already struggling to get back on its feet. 

“At such a delicate point in our recovery, after a steady start this summer, as we head into autumn and winter where we expect trade to already slow down, this is very concerning.

“With the announcements made today, pubs and breweries will need much more support from the government if they are to survive. An extension on business rates relief, continuation of the VAT cut to food and soft drinks, a sector specific furlough extension, and a significant beer duty cut are needed now.

‘Like-for-like July sales for small breweries have been down 50%’

“These measures, along with the welcomed compensation for businesses closed as a result of local lockdowns, announced earlier today by the Treasury, will help pubs survive, protect jobs, and ensure they can continue to serve our communities.”

James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), said: “While it is imperative that we tackle the spread of covid-19, the hospitality industry is still in a fragile state having taken the first few steps to start to rebuild over the summer, with small independent breweries who rely on pub beer sales some of the hardest hit.

“Even with pubs, bars, and restaurants having been allowed to re-open, like-for-like July sales for small breweries have been down 50%, and every week over the summer we have seen at least two small breweries closing for good. 

“No one wants these small steps to be the last, and if further restrictions are introduced, it is imperative that the government provides the full support these small independent businesses need. For small breweries, they need access to the full package of support already given to pubs, including the business rate holiday and an extension of furlough.

“The government should also scrap its plans to raise the amount of beer duty small breweries will have to pay under its proposed changes to small brewers relief, which is threatening businesses and creating additional uncertainty at a very challenging time.”

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