Pub Bosses Admit They May Be Closed For The Whole Summer
Some pub bosses fear they may have to stay closed until the summer has been and gone - or even worse, until the New Year.
One insider at a large international brewery told LADbible they'd been told to plan for pubs to reopen in either September or as late as next January - as the government comes under fire for a lack of clarity over when boozers might be able to come out of lockdown.
Some pub bosses say they'd grit their teeth through a lost summer if it meant saving their vital Christmas trade - but many say they're not being told anything at all by the government.
William Lees-Jones, managing director of brewery and pub company JW Lees, agreed he would be prepared to give up summer trading if it meant doors were back open for the festive period.
Lees-Jones told LADbible: "I'd be prepared to forgo summer trade if it meant we got Christmas. But to be fully ready for that - beer staff, customer confidence etc - we'd need to be open around October.
"Because of our size - we have almost 200 venues - we're struggling to do home delivery because we're all set up for dropping to pubs. Some of the smaller, more agile breweries are better set up for it. But big pub companies aren't.
"Big companies are super organised to switch up trading for months on then months off though, so it doesn't surprise me there are different options at play. We knew pubs were going to be in the last wave of re-openings."
With research claiming two-thirds of hospitality businesses do not believe they can survive another three months of lockdown, as many as two million jobs could be lost - another aspect of the battle the bars are facing.
With Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing he was looking at the most effective way to start winding down the government's furlough scheme, Gareth Williams, landlord of small independent craft beer bar The Brink in Manchester, worries that could plunge the whole industry into further crisis.
He's also accepted the summer may come and go without any hope of reopening.
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Williams told LADbible "[We're being told] nothing as of yet. I don't see us opening in the next three months, if I'm honest.
"Unless antibody testing becomes a thing pretty quickly. Hospitality can't social distance, so whilst that's still the guidance, the sector can't function.
"It'll be interesting to see if Sunak is indeed looking to wind down furlough. That's going to put us all in a very tricky position."
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, claims 40 percent of Britain's pubs won't survive beyond September with the current level of financial support on offer from the government.
She also blasted the government for 'insufficient clarity' as to when pubs will reopen following Boris Johnson's televised address to the nation last night.
"Our sector remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation," she said. "If government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release, as rumoured, this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown.
"Despite this, the government hasn't outlined any specific additional financial support for pubs to assure and help them through the extended lockdown hardship they face.
"We understand that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but extending the lockdown without offering additional support will be devastating."
Lees-Jones said he can accept the wait - for now - but warned of the dangers of the industry rushing back into pulling pints for frustrated punters.
"A lot of the suggestions are problematic," he said. "Everyone wants to open, but what will happen if a member of staff or customer catches the virus - or even worse, dies of it - because they came into the pub. A second peak and lockdown would be disastrous for so many reasons.
"If you limit people to a certain number of drinks on once place, for example, you just create pub crawls, a higher risk of infection across more venues."
Featured Image Credit: PA