Pubs in England in tier 2 areas where people cannot socialise with anyone outside their household have “no support whatsoever,” making them among the sector’s most vulnerable, according to a real ale consumer organisation.
Nik Antona, national chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), told NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times, that unless pubs are forced to close due to being in a tier 3 area, they are currently left without government help, even though their business is impacted by reduced footfall.
Jamie West, landlord of the Hare and Hounds and the Rose and Crown, both in St Albans, South East England, told NTD that many landlords feared their areas being placed into tier 2 of the government’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions, as this would mean “another significant drop-off in trade”.
Antona said that even “wet-led” pubs in tier 3 that are not serving food, so have to close, are not adequately supported, because though they will be able to benefit from the latest government jobs support scheme, the £3,000 ($3,900) a month they can get in grants often doesn’t cover their utility and other bills.
Many pubs could go out of business permanently, he said, and is calling on the government to put in place a fuller support package for pubs.
“Potentially up to 25 percent of the pubs in this country could go by Christmas if the government doesn’t step up and put in a support package to help them through these difficult times,” Antona said.
‘Scapegoat for All The Issues’
Antona said that despite there being “no evidence” for pubs being responsible for increased spread of the CCP virus, pubs are cast as “a scapegoat for all the issues we’ve got”.
West echoed his remarks, saying there have been “virtually no recorded cases of COVID actually coming out of pubs”.
Antona said falling consumer confidence was nevertheless affecting pub businesses, whose customers in England face a plethora of different restrictions.
These range from a 10 p.m. curfew to the “very extreme end” where pubs can only open if they serve alcohol along with a “substantial meal”.
West said that although each of the three tiers has “its own dangers,” many pub landlords were “almost terrified” of going into tier 2 because then “they know it will get worse”.
‘Centre of British Life’
Antona said that pub closures affected communities as well as businesses.
Pubs are “the centre of British life, village life, and communities” where people meet each other, he said.
He added that for some people, the pub provides their only social interaction.
“We’re seeing an increase in mental health issues and well-being issues with people not having an opportunity to interact,” he said.
“Especially if they live on their own, then they’ve lost that important meeting place [where] they would normally have socialised with other people from outside their household,” he added.
Antona warned that if a lot of pubs didn’t survive the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the CCP virus, local villages and towns could become “ghost towns” where whole communities stop interacting and talking with each other.
Antona’s and West’s comments follow pub giant Wetherspoon Chairman Tim Martin on Friday announcing preliminary figures of £105 million (£135.6 million) pre-tax losses, a 30.6 percent fall in revenue compared to last year.
Martin said the restrictions are “in reality, impossible to regulate”.
Citing the “comparatively successful” Swedish model for tackling the virus based on “social distancing, hygiene, and trust in the people,” he called for more “sensible” virus-related policies for the UK.
With reporting by Jane Werrell of NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times.