Responding to the Prime Minister’s calls for the public to avoid pubs and other social outlets during the COVID-19 outbreak, CAMRA’s National Chairman Nik Antona said:
“Pubs are at the heart of many communities and often provide other vital services. The advice from the Government for people to avoid pubs will have a devastating effect on the pub and brewing industry, the many millions of people it employs and the huge contribution it makes to local and national economies. The lack of decisive instruction from the Government leaves pubs in a limbo where customers will abandon them, but they’ll be unable to claim insurance or other support to help them survive. The Government has not defined how long people should stay away from pubs, but be in no doubt, within a short time many pubs and breweries will close and never reopen to serve their communities.
“If the Government believes people should not go to pubs, it needs to show leadership by clearly telling pubs to close their doors – and not unfairly leave it up to licensees to make an impossible decision. It needs to makes it clear for how long a period the enforced closure should last, and quickly deliver a package of support to see pubs and breweries through until they can again deliver the host of benefits pubs bring to the communities they serve.
“This should include, but not be limited to: extending business rate relief to all pubs, regardless of rateable value; deferring or forgiving VAT payments; covering staff salaries; allowing pubs to stay open if they provide other vital community services such as post office facilities; and helping pubs recover at the end of the crisis by introducing a differential rate of duty on draught beer served in pubs.
“We’d also call on pub companies to support their tenants by giving them a rent holiday during the crisis and particularly during any forced closure. Other suppliers such as sports TV providers could also demonstrate their support of the pub industry by giving a payment holiday.”