Our pubs in Lytham St Anne’s have been shut since the UK went into lockdown on March 23. There is currently no official date for pubs to reopen, and the government has refused to rule out the possibility that they’ll be closed until Christmas. This could spell a financial disaster for many of Lytham St Anne’s pubs and bars. Indeed, these pubs could possibly be last to reopen during a phased lockdown exit strategy as other social distancing measures are relaxed.
However, there are calls for a sensible and appropriate restriction of the regulations. Prominent government adviser, Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of the Department of Health Committee on Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza (CEAPI) has said pubs with beer gardens should be allowed to reopen to drinkers.
‘If it is a sunny weekend afternoon and the pub has a garden and the landlords are prepared to accept responsibility for not overcrowding that garden, I see no particular reason why it should not reopen,’ he told Saturday’s BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Professor Eyal Winter, an economist advising politicians on how to ease Covid-19 restrictions, has said Britain should follow the approach of the Germans with clear dates and targets on reducing restrictions as the country leaves the lockdown. He claimed that people were ‘starving’ for pubs which he described as ‘an important part of British culture’. As a way forward he has suggested that landlords ration beer to two or three pints per customer then ask them to go home to help with social distancing measures. Professor Winter, based at Lancaster University, added that social distancing would have to be enforced if pubs reopen. He has also suggested theatres and cinemas could reopen but only selling half as many tickets as normal with gaps in seating and higher prices to cover lower revenue.
There are over 48,000 pubs in the UK and the hospitality industry has been hit harder than most. It has been reported that pubs have resorted to throwing away beer. Restaurants, if they haven’t completely shut up shop, are offering take way to help maintain some income. The reduction in footfall has had a knock-on effect on suppliers, wholesalers, producers and farmers, while staff up and down the country have been furloughed – many worrying that they won’t get their jobs back.
Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Daisy Cooper has called for greater support to be given to pubs and restaurants during the pandemic, saying ‘Pubs and restaurants have been hit particularly badly during Covid-19. Those with a rateable value of more than £51,000 don’t qualify for the retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund.’