In Brief

Pubs ‘may be closed until Christmas’ due to lockdown

Michael Gove say bars will be among last businesses to emerge from restrictions

Britain's pubs could remain closed until at least Christmas, in what is described as a “massive blow” to the trade.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said yesterday that pubs would be among the final businesses to be given the green light to re-open following the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking on the BBC, he was asked if the UK's 48,349 pubs would be likely to be up and running again “before winter”.

Gove said: “The other inference that I draw from your question, which is that areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lockdown - yes, that is true.”

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Industry figures have responded with horror. Frank Maguire from Truman’s brewery, which has traded in London since 1666, said: “Things are looking pretty dire... but I actually think pubs will reopen sooner than Christmas.”

Referring to the postponement of this summer’s football European Championships, Maguire added: “We’ve got the added blow of missing out on the Euros this year. Every England game is worth millions to the industry.”

Fears for the sector’s future were growing even before Gove’s statement. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has warned that up to 50 million pints of beer would have to be thrown away as a result of pubs staying on lockdown.

Since the coronavirus lockdown began, some pub companies and breweries have decided to waive rent payments for publicans to help them through the challenging period. However, others have merely postponed the payments, pushing landlords into debt, as Sky News reports.

Trade association UK Hospitality last week warned that bars might have to start making redundancies within days unless the government wages furlough scheme is extended until July.

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