Pub industry warns latest local restrictions a “significant blow”

The British Beer and Pub Association has said new local restrictions in parts of the North East are a “significant blow” as the sector tries to recover from Covid-19 disruption.

The organisation, which represents brewers and pubs, made the comment after it emerged tighter restrictions will be coming in tomorrow for Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham. It follows concerns over rates of coronavirus cases.

Changes include hospitality businesses being restricted to table service only, and leisure and entertainment venues must close between 10pm and 5am.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “Our sector has been one of the hardest and longest hit by the pandemic. Pubs and brewers have worked tirelessly to get pubs safely open and stocked since July so this latest announcement is another significant blow.”

Pubs had to close in March for the lockdown and could reopen from July 4, with social distancing measures in place.

McClarkin said a number of pubs are struggling to break even, and added: “Consumer confidence is already very fragile and extra restrictions will inevitably have a further cooling effect on that not only in the regions where they are in effect, but also nationally.”

The BBPA has called on the government for more support, including extending a business rates holiday.

McClarkin said: “As an industry we recognise the need to continue to support the Government and local communities in managing the risk of rising infection rates. We take our responsibilities extremely seriously and our pubs will continue to adhere strictly to Government guidance ensuring that they remain a safe and welcoming place for socialising.”