All of hospitality has been unfairly treated throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many believe.
What is certain is that pubs have been most impacted – in both a social and economic sense. They are places of communal activity – the prime spot for we Brits to get together. And so it is difficult to open them, at least in a traditional sense, at all at the moment.
But many feel pubs ought to be allowed to open with table service, in a socially distanced capacity – just as they did between July and November – and yet none are allowed to do so in tier three, and only those serving “substantial meals” will be able to in tier two. All this from December 2nd.
And so it is no wonder publicans large and small have aired their dismay, upset, and aggravation at the government’s decision.
Commenting on the announcement that almost all of England will be held under tight, preventative measures, CAMRA National Chairman Nik Antona said: “After an agonising wait, licensees across the country have had their worst fears confirmed – in all but three council areas in the country, pubs will either be closed or only able to open if they are serving substantial meals.
“This is especially devastating in the run up the Christmas, where people in Tier 3 areas won’t be able to go to the pub at all, and those in Tier 2 areas won’t be able to visit to socialise safely with those outside of their household – which will increase feelings of loneliness and social isolation after a year that has been tough for many.
“CAMRA has been clear – we do not think that evidence has been produced to justify extra restrictions on hospitality, and particularly wet-led pubs, but if the Government wants to proceed, they must announce more financial help.
“It is really very simple – hospitality businesses have been singled out for extra restrictions, so they must be given dedicated support.
“This needs to take the form of increased grant funding to cover rent and costs, and include an extension to the business rates holiday, and an extension of the VAT cut to alcoholic drinks.
“This is vital to ensure that communities will have locals to return to in 2021 and can once again reap the social and wellbeing benefits of pub-going.”
And Tim Martin, he of Wetherspoons fame – who doesn’t usually appear in Harden’s, it has to be said, but sometimes cannot be ignored – also offered us some thoughts.
Martin said: “The company has campaigned for pubs to revert to the rules agreed between the pub industry, civil servants, local authorities and health officials, which were introduced when pubs reopened in July.
“These rules greatly reduced pub capacity and provided strict social distancing and hygiene standards but, with difficultly, allowed pubs to trade viably. It is very disappointing that yet another raft of regulations has been introduced, which has effectively closed half our pubs. In reality, the government has extended a form of lockdown, by stealth, in large swathes of the country.
“There has been no evidence of widespread transmission of the coronavirus in pubs, as the Test and Trace system has evidenced. As Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, recently said:
“The data we have shows that the infection rate has risen, mainly due to social interactions, particularly private household gatherings. In shops and hospitality venues there are strict measures in place to ensure they are Covid safe, whereas it is much easier to inadvertently pass on the virus in someone’s house, where people are more relaxed and less vigilant”.
“Wetherspoon has produced a magazine, illustrating the errors of judgement made by the government and SAGE, which it hopes its customers and the public will read.”