Alarm bells are ringing in hospitality as the press reports that venues could be closed until May.
The Sunday Times reported that the government was considering leaving the lockdown in place until late March — perhaps 23rd March, the anniversary of the start of the first lockdown — but pubs and restaurants would have to stay shut longer.
A government official told the paper: “The May Day bank holiday is more likely the moment you see pubs re-opening.”
The British Beer & Pub Association says pubs across the UK will be lost for good if they cannot re-open until May 2021 and do not get extended financial support from government.
The trade association has also said the government needs to be clear on its roadmap for the re-opening of pubs.
‘The government has a duty to tell publicans when it plans to let them re-open’
Chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “We really hope that the speculation about pubs being forced to stay closed until May is not true. We strongly believe that pubs are safe places to socialise and can play an important role in our social and economic recovery.
“If pubs are forced to stay close until May, it would mean they have faced 14 months of lockdowns and restrictions. How on earth could the government expect them to survive?”
She added: “The government has a duty to tell publicans when it plans to let them re-open, with a clear roadmap alongside the vaccination programme. If it won’t be until May then it needs to extend financial support for them to survive, and to brewers whose businesses also face jeopardy.
“In the more immediate future this means an extension to the chancellor’s latest grant support package, and not just for pubs, but also breweries. In the longer term, it means extensions to the business rates holiday and VAT cut, as well as a beer duty cut throughout 2021 and beyond.”