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Pubs Plead for Special Measures to Get Through Coronavirus Lockdown

Multiple trade bodies lobby the government for specific relief to stop boozers going under

Pub The French House in Soho
The French House, one of many pubs in a complicated situation owing to its serving food
Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Pubs push Rishi Sunak to bring in specific relief

Multiple pub and brewery trade bodies are lobbying the government for a package of measures to safeguard the future of the industry. While the government’s coronavirus lockdown update gives restaurants a highly tentative opening date of 4 July, pubs are both unlikely to reopen by then — as they are classed as “crowded by design” — and more susceptible to the financial impact of social distancing measures.

The British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping, and UK Hospitality are asking for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to cover pubs until the end of 2020. Currently, the CJRS covers 80 percent of workers’ wages, up to £2,500, but the three bodies acknowledge that a “tapered” scheme will be more workable, with the percentage reduced over time. The chancellor is widely expected to announce that tapering today, 12 May, with the proportion initially cut to 60 percent; this may not apply to the hospitality industries.

The bodies also ask for the £51,000 threshold on businesses eligible for grants to be removed, claiming that this will support “the 20 percent of pub and hospitality companies that represent the bulk of trade and employees.” The measures are also designed for brewers, calling for support on beer duty, a tax which will run into thousands of pounds per month even for microbreweries. Expect these calls for sector-specific measures to escalate as reopening plans continue.

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