Pub chiefs urge Boris Johnson to set a date for boozers to reopen

PUB bosses are calling for Boris Johnson to set a date for boozers to reopen as the vaccine rollout continues.

The industry warns it faces total destruction as it reveals beer sales were down 56 per cent last year costing the industry £7.8 billion.

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The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and sector business leaders have urged the PM to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs can reopen at the same time as non-essential shops.

They also want the government to confirm the barmy covid rules like alcoholic drinks served only with a substantial meal, no mixed households and the 10pm curfew – are ended.

Boris is set to outline his roadmap out of lockdown on February 22.

Pubs are also calling for an extension of business rates holiday into next year, an extension of the five per cent VAT hospitality rate for a further 12 months and for it to cover booze.

They also want a five per cent cut in the beer duty rate in the upcoming Budget.

Philip Whitehead, Chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:  “This is not sustainable for our sector.

"We cannot continue to hold out under these circumstances.

We urge the Government to provide clarity to our sector on when it can expect to fully reopen.

“When pubs can reopen, the restrictions they face – ranging from the substantial meal rule to the 10pm curfew – must be removed.

“They simply destroy their ability to operate as viable businesses."

“When pubs can reopen, the restrictions they face – ranging from the substantial meal rule to the 10pm curfew – must be removed."

Nick Mackenzie, CEO at Greene King, called for the end of “complex and unjustified restrictions” when bar doors can reopen after a “write-off” of a year.

He said: “Pubs are the heartbeat of their communities and can play a really important role as we emerge from this pandemic, creating significant numbers of jobs and reconnecting people to help tackle social isolation that has affected so many people over the last year. 

"But without publicans having clarity on reopening and additional support, there is a real risk of more viable businesses closing their doors in the weeks and months ahead.”

And Kevin Georgel, Chief Executive, St Austell Brewery said:  “The Great British pub is part of our social fabric. It’s far more than just a huge economic contributor.

"The avoidable loss of these wonderful, historic, community assets will be felt by generations to come, if the Government don’t act now and provide clarity and further support.”

Mark Davies, CEO of Hawthorn, the Community Pub Company with over 700 pubs added:  “We need a fair and viable roadmap to reopening in a safe and socially responsible way as we did on the 4th July last year when we came out of the first National lockdown.

“A failure to do this will inevitably lead to business failure, loss of jobs and a destruction of community value in so many locations around the UK.”

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