Ban on Pubs Selling Takeaway Alcohol Branded ‘Ludicrous and Unjustified’

A pedestrian walks past an image of a 1930s protest against prohibition depicting protestors holding "We Want Beer" placards, outside a pub in Liverpool, north west England on October 14, 2020, as new local lockdown measures come in to force to help stem a second wave of the novel coronavirus …
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Hospitality organisations have criticised the British government’s decision to ban pubs from selling takeaway alcohol during the upcoming restrictions, despite being allowed to do so in the first lockdown.

Pub, bar, and restaurant owners have taken a hit in the eight months since the beginning of coronavirus restrictions, including the shutdown in March and curfews since September, and are facing forced closure from Thursday until December 2nd.

During the first lockdown, many pubs used the sale of takeaway alcohol to keep in business. But new restrictions state that while hospitality venues must close and “can still provide takeaway and delivery services”,  “takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed”.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) told PoliticsHome on Sunday that selling takeaway alcohol “was and remains a vital source of revenue. To take this away now, with no explanation forthcoming is ludicrous and unjustified.”

While the Conservative government is renewing its furlough scheme — which pays 80 per cent of workers’ wages — the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) says “it does not go far enough”.

“A second lockdown is a devastating blow for an industry that is currently on its knees. Pubs have already invested thousands to reopen COVID-safe environments despite facing seriously reduced incomes. Simply put, the new lockdown couldn’t come at a worse time,” said Nik Antona, Camra’s national chairman.

The alcohol industry has warned that 10 million pints of beer could be wasted during the latest lockdown, but it is not just wasted beer at stake. Pubs form an integral, historical part of many British communities, and some locals may close and never be enjoyed by future generations.

Jonathan Neame, the chief executive of Shepherd Neame, the UK’s oldest brewery which has been brewing since at least 1573, said that the new measures were “soul-destroying”.

“During lockdown one there was terrific support for local pubs from local communities,” Mr Neame told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.

“People want their pubs, they came back in droves. They want to see the pubs survive and thrive. They want them to be there for their children’s generation so they bought into the take-home thing.

“Now we’re told that all the beer that is in pub cellars, we can’t even sell a pint of ale as a takeaway with a meal during lockdown, so we’ve got to tip that all down the drain.”

The effect of the lockdown has already been seen in the industry, with pub operator chains like Greene King, Shepherd Neame, and Wetherspoons announcing last month that they were face branch closures and redundancies. The British Beer & Pubs Association predicted around one-quarter of Britain’s pubs could close, with a third of the entire sector — more than 290,000 — facing job losses.


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