Thousands of pubs under risk of closing permanently warns UK hospitality

Thousands of pubs under risk of closing permanently warns UK hospitality

Thousands of pubs may not even be able to operate again when the government finally allows outlets to reopen next month. Trade association UK Hospitality, has written to ministers pleading with the government to set up financial aid for pubs, which were forced to shutter in mid-March and have not opened since but were still expected to pay their rent.

The next quarterly rent payment is due on June 24 with many venues lacking sufficient funds to cover it.

UK Hospitality’s chief executive, Kate Nicholls, wrote: “A shadow hangs over the sector in terms of the rent burden that has accumulated since closure – and the fact that rents are now so far out of kilter with the situation that the sector finds itself in for the foreseeable future, with social distancing restrictions and low consumer confidence.

“This is brought into sharp focus by the impending quarterly rent date of 24 June.”

After a much-expected reopening, pubs will also have to adhere to strict social distancing measures, such as requiring people to stay two meters apart, which will hinder their capacity.

The British Innkeepers’ Association has found that one in four pubs do not have enough room to ensure the rule stays in place.

It also revealed that 82 percent of those able to reopen would see their capacity reduced to less than half under the stringent rules.

Leading sociologist Robert Dingwall said on Wednesday that the two-metre rule does not weigh in the “economic devastation” and deaths brought on by the measure.

Professor Dingwall, a member of one of the sub-groups related to the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage), said that even if space was reduced to one metre, there would still be a “safety margin” as it was “very rare” for coronavirus fragments to be transmitted within that distance.

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Research published in the medical journal The Lancet revealed that the two-metre distance diminishes the risk of transmission from an infected person to 3 percent, compared to 13 percent at one metre.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Prof Dingwall labelled the paper as “problematic” because it did not take into account the economic repercussions of imposing a two-metre restriction.

Prof Dingwall, a member of the new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group (Nervtag), said: “I think it’s a question of relative risk.

“Even the problematic Lancet study that was published last week was really saying you’re moving from a tiny risk at two metres to a very small risk at one metre.

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“You have to set that against all the other harms that are being done by the economic devastation that is wreaked by the two-metre rule, the deaths that will be attributable to the lockdown itself, and to the social and economic disruption that is causing.”

He added: “The work on transmission in naturally occurring environments suggests that it’s very rare for particles to travel much more than half a metre.

“So you have that, you have that safety margin which is built in. And actually, as you get closer to people, you do begin to invade on personal space.

“With the exception of some very specific environments, like the London Tube at rush hour, you don’t let people get back close to you, unless they are members of your household, children, romantic partners, people with whom you have a very close relationship.”

Alok Sharma, the business secretary, was asked multiple times about the two-metre measure at the Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday.

“When it is safe to do so, we will see whether you can move to a shorter distance, but ultimately we keep all of these things under review,” he said.

“We are taking a cautious view on this. I completely understand why, for economic reasons, businesses will want to have a look at this two-metre rule.”

Tory Peter Aldous said: “Would the prime minister give full consideration to allowing beer gardens to also reopen from 15 June as the feedback which I’m receiving is that many pubs are now facing the unpalatable and unwanted prospect of having to make staff redundant.”

Mr Johnson responded that it was “very important that people understand the continuing risks that this country faces”, adding: “We want to reopen hospitality as quickly as we possibly can.

“The House will remember that according to the road map, we were going to open outdoor hospitality no earlier than 4 July.

“That is still the plan, we are sticking to our plan. So guidance is now being developed for such hospitality.”

Published at Wed, 10 Jun 2020 23:46:00 +0000