United Kingdom

Pubs spent £900m to make their venues Covid-safe but still can't let in drinkers

Pubs, bars and restaurants spent £900million on screens, masks and hand sanitiser to make their venues safe for reopening, according to industry estimates.

Bosses have spoken of their fury at spending the cash only to be forced to shell out again to adapt to an ‘ever-changing raft of ill-thought-out regulations’.

Each pub has spent more than £10,000 adapting the interiors of their venues, according to research, but many can now only entertain customers outside.

Pubs, bars and restaurants each spent more than £10,000 adapting the interiors and on screens, masks and hand sanitisers to make their venues safe for reopening

The row comes as tens of thousands of venues across the North of England are plunged back into drastic coronavirus restrictions, which industry leaders said are having a ‘devastating impact’ and will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

On Saturday, South Yorkshire joined Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool at the highest Tier Three level of restrictions, forcing many venues to shut.

Household mixing has already been banned in Tier Two areas such as London and the North East, and Wales has shut all its hospitality businesses as part of a two-week ‘fire-break’ lockdown.

Amid growing anger, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was forced to extend the winter jobs scheme on Thursday, but fears remain for the future of thousands of businesses.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘Ninety per cent of pubs are currently unable to make any profit. 

Now thousands of pubs in the North of England are plunged back into drastic coronavirus restrictions, which industry leaders said are having a ‘devastating impact’. Pictured: Empty streets and bars The Old Wellington Pub in Manchester as Tier Three restrictions begin

'More will need to be done to support Britain’s brewers and those in the pub supply chain who currently do not benefit from grants.’

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: ‘The Government’s restrictions make it impossible for most venues to operate profitably and are having a devastating impact. ’

Official data suggests close to four in ten restaurants, pubs, hotels are at risk of going bust, and the majority are now loss-making. 

But, even as restrictions were introduced for hospitality, Public Health England data showed that just 3.3 per cent of new infections were linked to the sector.

Tier Three measures will force up to 5,000 pubs to shut in the North unless they serve ‘substantial’ meals, according to property adviser Altus Group. 

Tier Two measures have affected 11,798 pubs, nearly a third of all English pubs, and 12,400 of the 27,000 of the country’s restaurants.

Official data suggests close to four in ten restaurants, pubs, hotels are at risk of going bust, and the majority are now loss-making, even as Public Health England data showed that just 3.3 per cent of new infections were linked to the sector

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 41,000 jobs have been lost from large companies in the hospitality sector.

Last week the boss of Marston’s pub chain blamed lockdown measures for the loss of 2,100 jobs at its 1,700 venues, saying they were the ‘inevitable consequence of the limitations placed upon our business’.

It is spending £2million to add heated outdoor seating areas to its pubs.

Wetherspoons has spent £13.1million on getting its 875 pubs ready. 

Its founder, Tim Martin, said the company is now being hit by ‘an ever-changing raft of ill-thought-out regulations’. 

It has announced up to 480 job cuts because of the pandemic.

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