Pubs facing ‘darkest moments’ amid virus restrictions, says Good Pub Guide

Pubs are facing their “darkest moments” amid continued restrictions, lockdowns, closures and job losses, an expert has warned.

Thousands of pubs have described this year as a “total nightmare” after working hard to reopen after the initial lockdown, only to be told to close again, said the Good Pub Guide.

The annual publication said the closure of all pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes in March was the first in the UK’s history.

The guide said the industry was facing the darkest of moments, and asked if it could be the end of the great British pub.

Fiona Stapley from the Good Pub Guide said: “Despite being battle-weary and worried sick about keeping their businesses up and running, I am pleased to say that these plucky, extraordinary people retain a teeny spark of hope.

“All know that the road into 2021, or until a vaccine is widely available, is going to be frighteningly rocky, but they do believe that if they are able to pull together with loyal customers, local suppliers, a helpful bank and a great deal of energy and luck, many will survive.

“But it is imperative that we support them because the British pub is special. It is the beating heart and focal point of countless communities, where customers from all walks of life come together and where you can be sure of a warm welcome, a frothing pint and a friendly smile.”

The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland, which has been named as UK Pub of the Year
The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland, which has been named as UK Pub of the Year (The Good Pub Guide 2021)

The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland, was named pub of the year, praised for selling real ale and good food and giving a genuine welcome to customers – and dogs.

Dining pub of the year was the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk; the new pub of the year was The Boat in Erbistock, Wrexham; own brew pub of the year was the Dipton Mill Inn, Hexham, Northumberland; and the beer pub of the year was the Fat Cat in Norwich.

– The British Beer & Pub Association said sales across all pubs in the UK last weekend were 84% lower than last year, with fewer than half opening.

The trade association said the “stark” number showed how much of an impact the new tier restrictions were having on pubs’ ability to operate as viable businesses this Christmas.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “These numbers illustrate the perilous situation our pubs find themselves in this Christmas.

“The tier restrictions that have been unfairly placed on our pubs are killing them. This must change, or thousands of pubs simply won’t survive.”

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