More than 5,000 pubs closing in second lockdown could never reopen

More than 5,000 pubs shutting their doors during the second coronavirus lockdown could never reopen, industry experts warn

  • New data shows 30 per cent of UK pubs has stopped trading by end of October
  • Industry analysts estimate that 43 per cent of these – some 5,160 – won’t reopen
  • Hospitality industry has been hammered by Covid and subsequent restrictions  

More than 5,000 pubs which shut their doors before the latest lockdown could remain closed forever, according to industry experts.

New data shows 30 per cent of Britain’s pubs – around 12,000 sites – had already stopped trading by the end of October compared to just 20 per cent in the same position at the end of September.

The figures cover the period before the current lockdown but take into account the tiered system introduced by the government which saw venues shut in the most restricted areas.

A pub in London which had been boarded up in preparation for the second lockdown. There is no suggestion this venue will close 

While most pubs hope to be able to reopen when restrictions allow, monitoring by analysts CGA and AlixPartners estimate that 43 per cent of these – around 5,160 – will not.

That figure will be even worse if lockdown restrictions continue as the chains slim down their own estates to shed the worst performing sites while independents find they can no longer afford to keep the business going.

CGA’s regular Market Recovery Monitor found that only half (52.8 per cent) of pubs in England’s Tier 3 areas were open at the end of October as they were able to provide ‘substantial meals’ in line with guidelines.

In Tiers 1 and 2 the figure was above 80 per cent but there were also widespread closures during the ‘firebreak’ lockdown in Wales and the clampdown in Scotland’s central belt.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s director of food and retail, said: ‘Hospitality has been steadily reopening since the end of the first national lockdown, and nearly 20,000 sites opened their doors again over August and September, but October saw an abrupt end to the recovery.

‘It’s very clear from this report that every new restriction damages businesses’ ability to trade.

‘With England now entering a second lockdown, we are unlikely to see Britain’s licensed premises return to the levels seen in the summer, let alone pre-pandemic, for a long time.

‘Financially robust companies should be able to sustain themselves through the lockdown, and the extension of the government’s furloughing scheme will undoubtedly save some businesses.

‘But much more support is going to be needed to prevent a wave of permanent closures over the winter.’

Pubs are allowed to serve click and collect pints during the lockdown but cannot invite anyone inside (pictured is a closed sign on a pub in Windsor) 

The figures for the end of last month show that 63 per cent of independent sites remained open compared to 82 per cent of managed venues.

AlixPartners’ managing director, Graeme Smith, said: ‘The recovery of hospitality has been halted by the second lockdown in England and with the Government stating that, once lifted, the country will return to the tiered system and significant trading restrictions, the question must be whether some of these sites will ever reopen under their current ownership.’   

Pubs are being allowed to sell ‘click and collect’ style takeaway pints during the lockdown, but many landlords are still struggling.  

The British Beer and Pub Association has warned that up to 12,000 UK bars are at risk of permanent closure.

The hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard by coronavirus, and business leaders have warned it could be ‘decimated’ by the second lockdown. 

The government has responded to these concerns by increasing its package of support, including extending furlough until the end of March.  

Last week, hundreds of pub landlords celebrated a last-minute reprieve as major breweries including Greene King and Adnams slashed rents during the lockdown.

Greene King, the UK’s largest pub company, and Stonegate both confirmed they were slashing rents by 90 per cent.

Meanwhile Adnams, which owns seventy pubs across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, said today it will not charge its tenants any rent through the second lockdown, with immediate effect.

Admiral Taverns and Marston’s also announced they would be providing rent discounts for landlords until December 2.

Keir Starmer calls for rethink of 10pm pub curfew when lockdown ends on December 2 

Sir Keir Starmer has demanded a rethink on the 10pm pubs curfew after the blanket lockdown ends in England, insisting it had not worked’.

The Labour leader raised the prospect that he could withdraw support for the controversial policy – leaving Boris Johnson at the mercy of a major Tory rebellion.

The hospitality industry, along with non-essential retail, has been closed down until December as part of the national squeeze.

But there is already furious wrangling over the shape of the curbs after the measures lapse.

In an LBC phone-in this morning, Sir Keir said he supported what the government had been ‘trying to achieve’ with the curfew, but it ‘didn’t work’.

He suggested that closing times should be spread out so people did not pour out on to the streets all at once, and indicated that off-licences should be shut at the same time to discourage after-hours partying.

‘I do think we get the chance to look again at the 10pm curfew,’ Sir Keir said.

‘We saw people crowding out at 10pm. There is a smarter way of doing this. I think that if you were to stagger that differently so people left at different times it would be far better.’

Sir Keir pointed to the groundswell of Tories who have been opposing curfew. ‘Lots of people… think this needs to be reviewed. There’s a lot of work for the government to do over this four week period,’ he said.

Sir Keir suggested that closing times should be spread out so people did not pour out on to the streets all at once (pictured, Manchester last month)

He said the curfew in Wales had been ‘smarter’ than in England, with closing times staggered.

‘They also smartly closed the off licences at 10 o’clock, the same time,’ he added.

‘What was happening at various parts across England was people coming out of the pubs and going straight to the off licence.

‘That was making people stay around in the city squares for longer.’

The move comes amid claims Mr Johnson believes he was bounced into ordering a second national lockdown. 

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