Extra cash for ‘wet’ pubs hit by Tier 2 and 3 lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledges one-off £1,000 payment for pubs that do not serve food forced to close in Tier restrictions - just enough to buy a single keg of beer

UPDATED: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there will be a one-off payment in December of £1,000 to “wet” pubs in England – pubs which do not serve food – which are having to close in Tiers 2 and 3.

The Prime Minister made the pledge as part of his opening statement in today’s House of Commons debate on the incoming tier system, which is due to come into effect throughout England from tomorrow.

Mr Johnson said the one-off £1,000 payment recognised how hard pubs have been hit in what is normally “their busiest month”.

However, the Federation of Small Businesses dismissed the gesture, pointing out that £1,000 will cover the cost of a single keg of beer.

The government’s new tiered coronavirus system will slash income for pubs and restaurants, 98 per cent of which will either be in Tier 2 or Tier 3, in half meaning £7.8bn in lost incomes, according to trade body UKHospitality.

>See also: Non-essential retail and gyms to reopen next month under new tier rules

The new tiered system, which has been described as a death knell for thousands of pubs and restaurants, requires all premises in Tier 3 to offer only takeaway service, while those in Tier 2 can only serve alcohol with “substantial meals” – restrictions which will apply to 99 per cent of Britain.

Ian Payne, chairman of Stonegate, Britain’s biggest pubs group with around 4,300 venues, told the Sunday Times that pubs “feel like scapegoats without the evidence to support what the government is doing,” and blamed the “forces of evil, otherwise known as Boris Johnson”.

Payne said: “There is no scientific evidence to suggest that pubs or restaurants are responsible for more than 3 per cent of outbreaks.”

However, the Welsh government announced yesterday that all pubs in Wales will be stopped from serving alcohol at night as it tightened its own coronavirus restrictions, following another spike in coronavirus infections since it ended its own “firebreak”.

>See also: £40m funding for hospitality firms in Scotland – what we know so far

According to UKHospitality, coronavirus restrictions have left 89 per cent of pubs and restaurants unviable as businesses. Since the first lockdown in March, 25,000 venues have closed permanently; a further 30,000 have yet to reopen.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told the Sunday Times. “We’ll be walking through the smouldering ruins of an industry that was the third-largest in the UK.”

In response, UKHospitality has lobbied the government to adopt France’s hospitality rescue package, where venues forced to shut are reimbursed 20 per cent of sales anticipated in the run-up to Christmas, based on last year’s figures, capped at €10,000 (£8,980).

One bit of Christmas cheer for the hospitality sector is that more than 6.3m people told recruitment site Caterer.com that they would forgo the traditional homecooked meal on Christmas Day in order to eat out during the five-day coronavirus “armistice”, which kicks in on December 23.

Further reading

How to shift your pub or restaurant from eat-in to takeaway and delivery

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...