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Campaign for Pubs

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UK publicans’ plea to the Prime Minister: We are people and families and we cannot face another lockdown or a curfew without proper financial support

The Campaign for Pubs, the national grassroots campaign to promote, support and protect pubs has written a open letter on behalf of the nation’s publicans and their families to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson asking the Government to understand that thousands of people and families are reliant on pubs for a living – and that another lockdown or national curfew would be disastrous for those people and not just businesses.

The letter has been signed by over 200 publicans from up and down the country – and the Campaign for Pubs are inviting publicans to sign it, to get across the message that this a real threat to them, their pubs and their families.

The letter is responding to speculation in the media about the possibility of another mass closure of pubs or yet more restrictions and makes clear that many people would simply be unable to carry on under such circumstances.

The letter expresses frustration that when people talk about ‘closing pubs’ once again they forget how many people and families are reliant on pubs for income, with tens of thousands of families reliant on income and wages from pubs. The reality of closing pubs and the effect on these businesses and those who run them (and on brewers and suppliers) must be properly considered as part of any decision to close pubs for a second time, including an understanding that it would mean more stock disposals and a repeat of the problems of re-stocking and reopening. These issues would need to be factored into a support package for pubs – and publicans and their families – in the event of any such closure.

The letter states

“It sadly appears to be all too easy for some people, some of whom have their income unaffected by this crisis, to call for pubs to close, not realising the impact on thousands of people in the sector and their families. Plus, there often there seems to be the misconception that pubs are merely places to do nothing more than drink alcohol, when in truth, for the vast majority of pubs, this is simply not the case.

It also urges decision makers to understand the human impact of any decisions to close and restrict pubs:

It is time that decision makers understood that pubs directly provide the livelihoods of thousands of families up and down the country and sustain the viability of thousands more businesses in their supply chains.  There seems to be no consideration of our families and our children and the families and children of our staff, some of whom are already facing hardship due to the fact restricted trade means we are struggling to make a profit or in many cases, are not making one at all.

The letter also warns of an impending mental health crisis amongst publicans if they are forced to close again, without proper financial support – something that the UK Government this time doesn’t appear to be considering.

The letter also expresses the widely held frustration of publicans and staff that some people are unfairly blaming pubs for the new spike when cases of the virus appear to be particularly spreading in homes or schools and in non-controlled environments. It challenges the Government as to what evidence there is that pubs are responsible for the recent increase in the spread of Covid-19, pointing out that there was no spike following the reopening of pubs on 4th July, yet a very noticeable one since schools have reopened.

The letter points out that publicans and pub staff up and down the country are working extremely hard to follow rules and guideline and are determined to keep pubs and customers as safe as possible with constant cleaning and sanitizing, restricting space and adapting their service to keep people socially distanced – in stark contrast to non-controlled environments.

The letter also urges the Government to step in and finally, once and for all, stop pubcos and commercial landlords from charging exploitative rents which bear no relation to the reality of trading under the current Government imposed restrictions. Many publicans found themselves facing huge rent bills, despite being unable to trade and another period of rent demands without income would be disastrous for thousands of pubs.

The letter also makes clear that another closure would inevitably lead to the failure of many pub businesses and the permanent closure of thousands of pubs, irrevocably changing the face of this country, its villages, towns and cities. It states “A key part of our culture, and an institution that is known and loved all round the world, namely the great British pub, is now under grave threat”.

To sign the letter, publicans are asked to email campaign@campaignforpubs.org.uk with their name, pub name and location and ‘Sign letter to PM’ as the subject.

Commenting, Paul Crossman, Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and licensee of 3 pubs in York said:

“This is a pivotal and very worrying moment for our pub industry. The decisions that the Government takes now will be the difference between make or break for many of our much-loved pubs up and down the country. This is especially so for many thousands of independently run pubs, including those leased from large corporate freeholders, which are operated by small businesses and families from within their own community.

“These pubs have worked tirelessly to reopen and to adhere to guidance in order to serve their communities safely, providing once again a much needed measure of community cohesion. Following the summer lockdown these small businesses have no reserves to survive further closure, or other restrictions such as a national curfew. If the Government decides to take further such measures then additional financial support will be crucial to avoid a decimation of our treasured national pubs, and real hardship for those who have worked so hard to help them survive this crisis so far.

Dawn Hopkins, Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and licensee of the Rose, Norwich (a wet-led pub) said:

“The Prime Minister and the Government needs to realise that there are thousands of publicans and their families who rely on the income from their pubs. It seems all too easy for this to be ignored when people talk about closing pubs again or introducing more restrictions.

“Another pub shutdown would be devastating and seems hugely unfair, when it appears clear that the current rise in infections is not being caused by pubs, which have been open for 11 weeks. The majority of publicans are working very hard to create safe spaces for their customers but would suffer irreparable damage if pubs were forced to shut down again. The Government must understand that the future of thousands of pubs is at stake but also the future for thousands of UK families. We believe pubs can continue to operate safely, but if any decisions are made to close or further restrict pubs, then the Government must ensure proper support is in place or many people and families will be facing loss and hardship and communities will lose their pubs”.

ENDS 

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