Christmas mixing ‘making a mockery’ of pub tier rules, says industry head

Allowing people to gather in “unregulated” homes over Christmas but banning mixing in pubs is “making a mockery” of the industry, a top figure has said.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) told MPs that “the ban on actual household mixing inside our venues within the tiering system is absolutely devastating for the pub sector”.

Speaking to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Ms McClarkin said bringing people together is “absolutely what we do”.

“We are a community centre, a community hub and we’ve invested millions to make us Covid-secure.”

She went on: “It is actually making a mockery by banning us from allowing people to mix and meet together when the Government has now introduced a Christmas plan that allows them to do that in private, unregulated and unsafe settings where all bets are off.”

Under Tier 3 regulations in England, hospitality businesses such as restaurants, pubs, cafes and coffee shops must close to sit-in customers and can only offer a takeaway service.

In England’s Tier 2, people can go to the pub but must only do so with other members of their household or support bubble.

Ms McClarkin also questioned how pubs were making sure that people are not mixing indoors but emphasised: “We are publicans, not policemen.”

She told the committee: “The vast majority I have to say are abiding by those rules, and that’s pubs and pub-goers.”

“We absolutely support enforcement measures. If pubs are flouting those rules then I think they should have action taken against them because they are undoing the absolutely sterling work the majority of pubs are doing,” she added.

“Inevitably we will rely on the information we’re given from customers and their ability and desire to want to comply with the rules.”