It is expected to be announced this evening that from Thursday pubs and restaurants will be forced to close at 10 pm and will only be able to offer table service in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus within the UK. While it is good news that they are expected to be allowed to remain open for now, the news has been met with apprehension by those working in the hospitality sector.
While cafes and restaurants were able to receive a boost by using the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August, for many of those running pubs the few months since reopening has already been tough; with social distancing rules meaning that customer levels have not been able to return to where they were back in March. Pubs who usually would offer live music have generally been unable to do so due to restrictions on capacity and social distancing which has meant that they have lost even more potential income. The prospect of closing early, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, means facing the loss of valuable income. Early closure will mean that for many pubs they will lose the equivalent of a days trade each week, amounting to potentially thousands of pounds in lost earnings for owners and employees alike. Some are calling for a reduction in VAT or business rates to compensate for the loss.
With current estimates stating that potentially only 5% of infections are coming from hospitality and the majority being transmitted through social interaction within homes, the feeling amongst traders is that they are being unfairly penalised once again; just as they were in March when the government closed pubs and restaurants before the national lockdown.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will address Parliament this afternoon and a national broadcast is expected at 8 pm this evening outlining exactly what measures need to be taken. While it has become obvious that steps once again need to be taken to control the virus until a vaccine can be found, I am sure that landlords up and down the country will be watching, desperately hoping that some kind of compensation will be announced for them and potentially avoid hundreds of thousands of redundancies.