pubs

People Who Have Had One or Zero Doses of a Covid Vaccine to be Barred from Indoor Hospitality When it Reopens in Ireland

The Irish Government is delaying the reopening of indoor hospitality, along with other indoor activities, due to fears over the Indian Delta variant. To add insult to injury, only those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid, and who have a pass to prove it, will be allowed into indoor venues when restrictions are finally eased. People who have only received one dose of a vaccine, or who – for medical or other personal reasons – are unvaccinated, will be forced to stay outside. BBC News has more.

Indoor hospitality was due to reopen on July 5th.

When it reopens, indoor hospitality will be limited to those who are fully vaccinated against Covid, Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin has said.

The recommendation had been made by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). …

Mr Martin said while there will be an increase in the number of people who can attend outdoor events and the number who can attend weddings will be increased to 50 as planned, “the return to other indoor activities including hospitality will be delayed”.

“NPHET’s clear advice based on the modelling it has done is that given the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, the safest way to now proceed with the return of indoor hospitality is to limit access to those who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid infection,” he said. …

“The simple truth is that we are in a race between the variants and the vaccines and we want to do everything we can to ensure that the vaccine wins.” …

The Taoiseach gave no date as to when indoor dining and drinking in pubs and restaurants will resume.

Restaurateurs and publicans have expressed their anger and frustration at Mr Martin’s comments…

The plans have been criticised by the Restaurants Association of Ireland, which said it was “astounded” that indoor hospitality will face a further delay.

In a statement, the group said it believed the policy is discriminatory and unworkable. 

“Restaurant, pub and café owners will now be placed in the unenviable, complex and difficult position of allowing vaccinated customers enter indoors and restricting non-vaccinated customers to outdoor dining,” its Chief Executive Adrian Cummins said. 

“Such a practice of refusing access to goods and services in currently illegal under equality acts.”

He added that many people working in the hospitality sector are in the unvaccinated age groups, and could potentially be asked to refuse service to their peers.

Worth reading in full.

40% of Brits Say Their Favourite Pubs Are Still Closed Due to Ongoing Restrictions

The Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) warns that the continuation of restrictive measures – especially relating to social distancing – in the hospitality industry means pubs are having their post-lockdown recoveries trashed before they’ve even begun.

40% of Brits say their favorite pubs are still closed because of these restrictions, according to a new survey. Despite this, the Government is considering introducing more measures, with vaccine passports in pubs seemingly back on the table. The MailOnline has the story.

In a survey of 1,000 adults, 40% said their favourite pubs are still behind locked doors.

It comes after the BBPA said the restrictions must be removed if the industry is to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic.  

“The current restrictions on pubs are flatlining their recovery before it has even had a chance to begin,” Chief Executive Emma McClarkin said.

“Pubs and licensees are struggling to recover with the current restrictions they face and debts are accumulating. Every week the current restrictions stay and uncertainty continues, the likelihood of pubs being lost forever increases.

“The countdown to freedom is on in England for pubs on July 19th, but the Wales and Scotland Governments must give more certainty to publicans.”

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Covid passports could be used to keep pubs and restaurants open this winter under plans being drawn up by ministers. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned although it is “looking good” for the lifting of restrictions on July 19th, Britain could still face a “rough winter” if cases surge.

Plans for the widespread use of so-called Covid passports were put on the back-burner earlier this year following a backlash from MPs and parts of the hospitality sector. 

But a review into “Covid certification” led by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove is now examining whether they could be used to enable venues like pubs, restaurants and theatres to remain open if cases rocket later this year. 

Worth reading in full.

Nightclubs and Bars May Sue the Government to Prevent Delay to Covid Restrictions

Following the news that the June 21st reopening is likely to be delayed by at least four weeks, reports have emerged that nightclubs and bars are considering suing the Government to prevent the extension of lockdown. The Guardian has the story.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is understood to be weighing up legal action on behalf of venues such as nightclubs that have spent money to be ready to welcome guests after a year of enforced closure.

According to the trade body, 54% of businesses have ordered stock, 73% have called in staff and 60% have sold tickets.

Hospitality bosses said they were increasingly resigned to the prospect that rules such as social distancing and compulsory mask-wearing will not be relaxed, potentially until July.

“It was almost in touching distance and now feels like it’s slipping away,” said Chris Jowsey, the head of the 1,000-strong pub chain Admiral Taverns.

“We need people in the pubs to trade profitably. People might say it’s only a fortnight or four weeks, but [publicans] are hanging on by their fingertips.”

Many pubs and restaurants opened when restrictions eased in April and May under the first two stages of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown. But nightclubs and smaller venues, where social distancing is impossible, have been shut for either six months or in many cases since the onset of the pandemic.

“If this gets pushed down the line, they’ve used their last cash resource to get to the point where they can open the doors,” said NTIA’s Chief Executive, Michael Kill. “They’ve committed money to preparing, to stocking, staff training. There’s talk about two weeks [delay], four weeks and the uncertainty is killing them.”

He said the anxiety was exacerbated by a lack of any solution to a looming rent crunch. A Government-imposed moratorium that prevents commercial landlords from demanding late rent payments comes to an end on July 1st.

“We’ve got people who have compromised themselves financially who don’t know if they’ll get out of debt,” said Kill. “The anxiety levels associated with commercial debt, which still doesn’t have a solution with two weeks left, is exceptional.”

Richard Nattriss, a nightclub owner who runs Raw in Whitby, North Yorkshire, said: “Our building is owned by a pension fund, like a lot of places, and there’s been no concession on rents. We’ve paid full rent through the entire thing and the grants haven’t covered that, so we’re desperate to open to get the cashflow.”

Nattriss said he had already spent money on stocking up, amid shortage of supply of some drinks, but did not believe nightclubs would be able to open until July 5th at the earliest.

“Even though they say the restrictions are lifting, we know in our heart of hearts they’re not going to do that,” he said.

Worth reading in full.

U.K. Pubs’ Turnover 20% Down on Pre-Lockdown Levels Due to Continuing Government Restrictions

The reopening of pubs indoors last month has been hampered by the continuation of Government restrictions on the hospitality sector, particularly social distancing, which has resulted in a 20% slump in trade compared with pre-lockdown levels. This fall has come in spite of the reopening of between 90-95% of pubs since May 17th, although the cost of a pint has increased in many pubs. The Guardian has the story.

Pub owners have warned that despite welcoming customers back indoors from May 17th, and a boom in table bookings for restaurants and bars, turnover in the first week of reopening was 20% lower than in the same week in 2019 because of Government restrictions and physical distancing measures.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), which carried out the survey of publicans representing 7,000 pubs across the country, said the Government’s rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus had continued to make the businesses “unviable”.

Drinks sales initially soared to almost double the pre-pandemic when pubs first opened for business again in April outdoors, according to industry data, but the pub industry has blamed physical distancing measures for the punters’ muted response to the reopening of indoor spaces.

Under the Government’s current rules, pubs are limited to providing table service to limited group sizes of up to six people and cannot allow punters to drink at the bar or standing. They are also required to keep people at least one metre apart and ensure face masks are worn at all times, except when outdoors or seated inside.

The BBPA has warned that unless restrictions are removed in line with the Government’s June 21st timeline, the average pub would need to sell more than 24,672 extra pints over a year to make up for their loss in turnover.

The pub association’s survey revealed that across the week of May 17th turnover was at 80% of the same period in 2019 despite 95% of U.K. pubs, or about 45,000 venues, reopening to trade. The association estimates that if trade continues to stay at 80% of normal, the average pub would lose £94,000 in turnover over a year.

Emma McClarkin, the Chief Executive of the BBPA, warned that turnover may even fall further if the early enthusiasm to return to the local pub begins to wane because of the coronavirus restrictions.

It is a big blow to the industry, therefore, that the Government is considering keeping social distancing guidelines in place after the June 21st “Freedom Day”.

Worth reading in full.

A Quarter of Britain’s Pubs and Restaurants Have Yet to Reopen

Despite the recent easing of restrictions for both outdoor and indoor hospitality, new research shows that almost a quarter of Britain’s licensed premises have yet to reopen. The partial reopening of the sector has been largely hampered by the continuation of social distancing guidelines. Nearly 7.5% of Britain’s pre-lockdown total of pubs and restaurants have already closed for good. The Caterer has more.

23.7% of Britain’s… licensed premises have yet to reopen despite the return of inside service, new Market Recovery Monitor research from CGA and AlixPartners reveals.

The snapshot data found just under 25,000 venues are still shut, with similar trading numbers in England (76.6%) and Scotland (77.4%), but a notably slower return in Wales (69.6%).

The Market Recovery Monitor showed slightly more pubs have reopened than restaurants. Around nine in 10 high street pubs (92.9%), food pubs (91.8%) and community pubs (89.6%) are back trading, alongside 89.2% of casual dining and other restaurants.

However, social distancing and restrictions in place still make it unviable for swathes of venues to open, and 45.2% of Britain’s sports and social clubs remain closed, alongside 50.9% of large venues and 27% of bars. 

More than 8,500 premises… have already closed for good.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s Director for Hospitality Operators and Food, EMEA, said: “The return of large parts of hospitality for indoor service was a landmark moment for consumers and businesses alike, but it is alarming to see that so many venues have still not been able to welcome guests. Many will have decided that restrictions and space constraints make opening unviable, while some sectors like late-night bars and nightclubs are still completely off limits.

“It will be an anxious wait to see how many of the venues that are holding on until the final easing of restrictions will be able to make it through. Sustained support is clearly going to be needed to save thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs.”

The continued presence of a fear of Covid (“Covid Anxiety Syndrome“, as it has been labelled) means many people have struggled with returning to normal life. This will no doubt have created further difficulties for publicans and restaurateur hoping to maximise sales after many months of forced closure. Recent polling from Ipsos MORI shows that 14% of British adults aren’t looking forward to having dinner in a restaurant with friends and 18% aren’t looking forward to going to the pub.

The Caterer report is worth reading in full.

Six Pubs Have Closed Every Week during Lockdowns

The reopening of indoor hospitality earlier this week came too late for many businesses as data reveals that six pubs have closed every week during Government-imposed lockdowns. Most have either been demolished or converted into homes and offices. The MailOnline has the story.

Figures released today showed 384 pubs have closed permanently during the national and tiered local restrictions over the past 14 months.

The number of locals is down by one per cent from 40,886 to 40,502, according to research by consultants Altus Group…

West Northamptonshire Council granted permission to turn The Romany in Kingsley, Northampton, into 11 flats after its closure during the first lockdown last year.

And The Majors Arms in Widnes, Cheshire, was sold last October, with its new owners requesting permission from Halton Council to turn it into a shop.

The Crobar in Soho, central London, previously said it would be unable to reopen after struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, but is now planning to resume business at a new venue after fundraising over £100,000. 

The study found more pubs were lost in the South East than other parts of the U.K., with 62 demolished or converted for alternative use during the pandemic.

The West Midlands, Wales, North West and East of England each saw more than 40 pubs closed during the same 14-month spell.

Pubs that disappeared have either been demolished or converted into other uses such as homes or offices, said Altus.

Worth reading in full.

Pubs Close Their Beer Gardens as Poor Weather Keeps Punters Away

Profits at pubs that have access to outdoor space have – as expected – been dampened by poor weather. A triple whammy of heavy rain, high winds and low temperatures has kept pub-goers away from exposed beer gardens today. MailOnline has more.

The Environment Agency had two flood alerts in place for England today – one for the River Sow and River Penk in Stafford, and the other covering the River Burn from Waterden to Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk.

The Met Office said parts of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales could see five inches of rain between 6am today and midnight tonight, while BBC Weather said wind gusts in County Antrim reached 59mph this morning.

Pubs across England – such as in North Staffordshire and the West Midlands – have been forced to close temporarily because of the weather, and not for the first time. A publican at The Fox in Shipley told the Express and Star that ongoing Covid rules are “really affecting the business”.

I would say the rain has stopped people from coming out.

If people are dining and it rains they’ve got nowhere to go because we can’t let them go inside because of Covid rules and so it’s really affected the business.

We’ve had to close and we’re only doing short days, too. We didn’t open on bank holiday Monday because of the weather and it’s affected us big time…

We made a decision to close on the bank holiday last Thursday when we saw the weather forecast.

We thought it’s silly staffing the place knowing full-well what was coming.

The weather is expected to improve a little tomorrow, but the uncertainty caused by Covid regulations is keeping many publicans on edge – highlighting the importance of legal challenges against the delayed reopening of indoor hospitality.

The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.

The War on Pubs is Being Waged by Puritans Against Joy

We’re publishing an original piece by former university teacher Sean Walsh today about the Government’s war on pubs. He sees this as a puritanical crusade intended not just to make sure no one’s having any fun but also to suppress dissent. Here’s an extract:

The Lockdown Sanhedrin, the SAGE clerisy, is itself infected with the virus of puritanism. It’s impossible to look at Chris Whitty without concluding that other people’s enjoyment presents itself to him as a sort of personal Kryptonite. Boris’s self-announced “libertarianism” seems to amount to little more than the thesis that he gets to do what he wants and the rest of us can go hang. But I think it goes deeper than that – the Government and in particular its advisers are in thrall to a metaphysics of joylessness.

At the start of this crisis, the Government decided that it was qualified to make a distinction between those activities which are essential and those which are not. The latter were consequently eliminated from the list of what was permitted. To put it another way, it took upon itself the right to decide what counts as work, and what counts as mere “play”.

But it is not clear that any such distinction exists, and if it does then it does not follow that we should prioritise work over play, even in a pandemic. Aristotle claimed that the “first principle of activity is leisure”: that we work in order to play; that play is a more valuable activity than work because it is something that is done for its own sake. The vulgar utilitarianism which has shaped SAGE’s pandemic response is a crude sanitisation of our understanding of the human soul. Not every worthwhile thing that we do as human persons can be reduced to the requirements of a Downing St data slide.

Worth reading in full.

Drinkers Told They Must Wear Masks In Some Pub Beer Gardens

In case having to “sign in” every time you go to the pub – and having to show staff your phone to prove it – isn’t enough (as well as the chance that vaccine passports are required at your local in the near future), pubs in parts of England will now also force drinkers to wear face masks while sitting outside. The Telegraph has the story.

Pub drinkers in some parts of England will be forced to wear masks even when outside from Monday, thanks to even stricter rules for reopening drawn up by some overzealous councils.

Landlords have been told they must enforce mask-wearing by their customers when they are walking around beer gardens, despite national guidance that only requires face coverings indoors.

Councils have set up enforcement teams that will patrol pubs looking for rule-breakers, and landlords fear they could face fines if their customers are caught.

The Government’s guidance says drinkers must wear masks if going inside a pub to use the toilets or to pay at the bar.

One notice from Ribble Valley Borough Council told pubs in Lancashire that “face coverings must be worn by customers, except when seated to eat or drink”.

Stosie Madi, owner of the Parkers Arms pub near Clitheroe, contacted the council to ask if the notice was a “misprint” and whether her customers needed masks outdoors.

A council official told her face coverings must be worn in her beer garden unless her customers are eating and drinking. …

Another pub in Rochdale said it had received the same guidance from its local council.

It’s as if the authorities are trying to make the experience of going to the pub as unpleasant as possible to deliver the final nail in the coffin of the pub trade.

Worth reading in full.

Plans for Vaccine Passports When Visiting Pubs and Restaurants Ditched – for Now

Plans to force people to show vaccine passports when going to a pub or restaurant have been ditched. Proof of a Covid jab or test will, however, still be required for festivals and sports events, according to reports. The Sun has the story.

Boris Johnson has ditched plans to force customers to show a vaccine passport every time they go into a pub.

In a major boost for the hospitality trade, the PM will exempt bars and restaurants from new Covid safety rules.

Only those attending mass gatherings, such as festivals or major sports events, will be required to provide proof of a jab, test or natural immunity.

Landlords, who can reopen outdoors-only a week tomorrow in England, will soon be free to admit anyone who follows existing guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing.

Boris’s change of heart came after an angry backlash from 73 MPs who branded the idea “divisive and discriminatory”.

Trials of vaccine passports are still going ahead as planned – the debate over their usage is far from over yet, despite the good news on pubs.

NHS chiefs are developing a new app members of the public will have to show to gain access to sports stadiums, theatres, festivals and nightclubs.

Those without a smartphone will get a paper certificate.

The system will be trialled at nine pilot events over the next few weeks, where experts will also explore how high-tech ventilation and Covid tests on entry are working.

Mr Johnson will study the feedback to help decide how to manage other large-scale gatherings as restrictions are lifted.

Worth reading in full.

Clearly, the idea of domestic Covid passports is not dead. As Fraser Nelson said in the Spectator today: “In theory, the Government is taking soundings. In practice, those involved in Michael Gove’s review have been told that the decision has already been made by the PM: so they’re happening.” While the Government may not force pubs and restaurants to restrict entrance to those with vaccine passports, it will likewise not stop businesses from imposing such limits themselves, as Michael Gove has suggested in an article for the Sunday Telegraph.

At the moment, businesses could set up their own private certification schemes and use them to restrict access. Nightclubs and other venues already police entry. Some may well want to embrace any tool available to signal to visitors they are at low risk of infection.

Also worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Mirror reports that, while pubs, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to reopen in full without vaccine passports on May 17th, they may be forced to introduce them at some point in the future.

Stop Press 2: This image from the Sun shows where vaccine passports will be required at first.