Last Orders?

How further lockdown measures could mean the end for many pubs across the UK

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As cases across the UK continue to rise, further lockdown measures look set to come into place next week. The industry which looks likeliest to bare the brunt of the new restrictions is hospitality. New rules could see pubs and restaurants in certain Covid-19 hotspot areas shut down, leading to a further loss of income which could see some businesses never reopen again.

From the end of March until the beginning of July, pubs remained closed. When they finally reopened their doors, there was relief across the board. Of course, it was down to the businesses to get themselves Covid secure before reopening to the public and whilst some have paid the price for failing to do so, the most have spent money and time making sure they remain safe for customers.

However, with the extra restrictions looming, all of these new measures could be worthless. If pubs and restaurants are closed again it could have significant financial implications. We are at a turning point in how the government supports the hospitality industry during the lockdown, and the signs do not look good.

The last few months have somewhat diluted the term ‘essential’. Of course, things like food and water are essential to everyone, but so should social interactions. That is what the pub gives so many people across the UK.

Afterall, the pub is far more than a place to drink. It is a hub of the community where you can meet familiar faces. It is a place where charities can raise money for vital causes. It is a source of employment for people who care about those they serve.

The point about the pub being the hub of the community is imperative as in many villages, it really is the main meeting point for residents for sometimes miles around. To lose this would be to lose a part of what it means to be a society. If towns and villages see their local pub disappear, so will many isolated people for which a weekly trip for a pint is their only point of social contact.

The social and financial importance of the pub is lost on many people, but perhaps none more so than on the government in control of deciding the measures. If they truly believe that closures are needed, then there must be the financial backing in place to keep pubs afloat. It appears that the support will not be the case, however, and many pub owners are rightly concerned.

According to data, over 300 pubs have permanently closed in 2020. Although some of this number may not be Covid related, the impact of the virus and the consequential restrictions have hit pubs hard. Between July and mid September, an estimated 87 pubs were forced to permanently close their doors. Given the dates, there is far greater chance that it was the lockdown measures which shut these down.

The scale of the financial impact of coronavirus remains to be fully seen, but early predictions are that things will get worse before they get better. Thousands have lost jobs and this looks set to continue, but job losses and further pub closures could have an equally devastating social impact on many parts of the UK.

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