Pub landlords claim hospitality restrictions will cause ‘unnecessary hardship’

Pub landlords have hit out at the “unnecessary” new coronavirus restrictions imposed on them, with one saying he will no longer be able to hire three apprentices as a result.

Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West will see hospitality venues close under the most restrictive Tier 3, meaning pubs there will only be allowed to sell takeaway drinks.

Glen Duckett, a pub landlord in Greater Manchester, said the restrictions are “unnecessarily going to cause hardship”, pointing out that the region has seen a fall in the rate of coronavirus infections.

The Eagle and Child pub in Ramsbottom, opened in October 2011 as a social enterprise, has supported 130 unemployed and disadvantaged young people with training and employment.

Covid-19 restrictions in England
Covid-19 restrictions in England

However, Mr Duckett said restrictions mean they will no longer be able to take on three apprentices next week as planned.

He told the PA news agency he had three apprentices starting at his pub next week who he would now no longer be able to take on.

“With the lockdowns plus all of this, going into December which is one of our key trading times, we’ve lost tens of thousands of pounds and we’re a small business, we help disadvantaged young people into work,” Mr Duckett said.

“There’s just a complete lack of comprehension by the people making the decisions, it’s inconsistent, knee-jerk approaches,” he told PA.

“We have strict social distancing and we follow the track and trace scheme… that doesn’t happen in shops or supermarkets.

“I think this is unnecessarily going to cause hardship to small businesses in hospitality, which will put jobs and people’s livelihoods at risk.”

Looks like we are in Tier 2 – so therefore we won't be opening next week grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

— The Doghouse Micro Pub Weymouth (@doghouse_pub) November 26, 2020

David Jobling, owner of the Doghouse Micro Pub in Weymouth, said Tier 2 restrictions in the area will force his pub to close as it does not serve food.

The Tier 2 rules dictate that hospitality venues must close unless they can serve “substantial meals” alongside drinks.

Mr Jobling, 55, told PA: “We are in Tier 2. I am a wet pub so will remain closed.

“My thoughts are, how can I be open in Tier 1, have to close in Tier 2, but can open again for take-outs in Tier 3?

“Matt Hancock said in Parliament on Monday that they would take into account, for example, different parts of a county when deciding tiers. He clearly hasn’t.

“Here in Weymouth, the general anecdotal idea is most coronavirus infections in Dorset are in Bournemouth and Poole. The rest of Dorset, especially here in the west, has very low infection rates.

“The grant we received in first lockdown was a great help, the grants in this lockdown do cover existing bills, but not much else. So personally I have less cash.”

Coronavirus – Wed Oct 14, 2020
Coronavirus – Wed Oct 14, 2020

Rules imposed during the previous regional lockdowns prompted one Merseyside pub to rebrand itself The Three Bellends, featuring images of Boris Johnson, Mr Hancock and Dominic Cummings.

Industry groups say they have not been given evidence from the Government to justify measures imposed on pubs and restaurants, including a curfew on serving which will be extended to 11pm.

Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs, called for a “new, dedicated financial support package” to support the industry through the next set of restrictions.

She also described as “inconsistent” the decision to allow household mixing in people’s homes over Christmas but not in pubs.