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Pub Covid Rule Has Been Extended For Another Year In Boost To Drinkers

Jake Massey

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Pub Covid Rule Has Been Extended For Another Year In Boost To Drinkers

As we all know, Covid-19 has brought an enormous amount of suffering to the world; but hopefully it will also prompt enduring societal changes that improve our way of life.

One invaluable form of solace as the UK plunged in and out of varying degrees of lockdown was takeaway pints. When restrictions meant pubs couldn't open, the government allowed them to sell takeaway pints in plastic glasses, in a bid to help the industry survive the huge financial hit brought about by enforced closure.

The rule was due to expire at the end of September, but it has now been extended for another year, in order to support the hospitality sector as it bounces back from lockdowns.

Long live takeaway pints. Credit: Alamy
Long live takeaway pints. Credit: Alamy

The decision follows extensive lobbying by trade bodies, which argued the continuation of alcohol sales as takeaways, in delivery orders and in pavement and outdoor areas would serve as a vital boost to hundreds of struggling businesses.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of campaigners UKHospitality, said: "This decision to extend the off-sales easement is the right one, and hugely significant. 

"If this had lapsed, it would have caused further problems for many hundreds of hospitality businesses already struggling to survive.

"But persistent lobbying by UKHospitality and others has convinced government that deregulation measures such as this can help businesses, at what is a critical time in their efforts to stay afloat.

"This will benefit those hospitality businesses that have successfully evolved operating models to incorporate takeaway and outdoor sales, and allow them to continue to do so."

The group added that it would continue to work with the government on long-term solutions to aid the recovery of the hospitality industry beyond September 2023.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has called for a reduction in VAT to help businesses recover from lockdowns amid soaring inflation.

Drinking in the street lives on. Credit: Alamy
Drinking in the street lives on. Credit: Alamy

Colin Wilkinson, the managing director of the SLTA, said: "The temporary reduction of VAT from 20 percent to 5 percent from July 2020 to support businesses during the pandemic was hugely appreciated by the hospitality industry but its return to the standard rate from 1 April has coincided with an unprecedented rise in inflation and also food and energy costs.

"Businesses are struggling so it goes without saying that their customers are struggling, too.

"After enforced closures and restrictions during the pandemic, the spiralling cost-of-living crisis and ongoing staffing issues now having an impact on licensed hospitality and many other sectors, it is crucial that both the UK and Scottish Governments listen to our concerns.

"Many businesses no longer open seven days or they open later in the day because of rising energy costs and lack of staff so a cut in VAT would go a long way to helping them on the road to recovery and provide much-needed support over what will be a very difficult few months."

A Treasury spokesperson said: "We've stood behind the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic with £400 billion package of economy-wide support that saved millions of jobs.

"And at the Spring Statement we went further, announcing a £1,000 increase to the Employment Allowance which will cut taxes for hundreds of thousands of businesses.

"Eligible high street businesses also get 50 percent off business rates bills and benefit from a freeze to the business rates multiplier, which puts the brakes on bill increases and is worth £4.6 billion over the next five years.

"We've always been clear that the lower rate of VAT was a temporary measure and it's right our support reflects the fact the economy has reopened."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: UK News, Food And Drink, Coronavirus

Jake Massey
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