The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has responded to the announcement from Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, that several areas in the North East of England would be placed under more stringent restrictions.
BBPA has called it a “significant blow”, but reiterated that the trade remains committed to working with the Government to control the spread of COVID-19.
Emma McClarkin, BBPA's Chief Executive, 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.
“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.
“Our data suggests that a third of pubs are still struggling to even break even which indicates that we are at a very delicate moment in our sector’s recovery. 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.'
McClarkin concluded, “It is vital that the Government recognises the unprecedented challenges that pubs and brewers are facing at this time. We are calling on them to immediately put in place a sector specific furlough scheme beyond October, extend the VAT cut and business rates holiday and make a substantial cut to the punitively high rate of beer duty in the Autumn Budget. These measures will help brewers and pubs work towards a safe and sustainable recovery.”