Pubs are among UK businesses that have been hardest hit during the coronavirus pandemic and as many as 15,000 might not survive until the lockdown is lifted, an industry expert warned on Friday.
Pubs to face the "double hit"
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the coronavirus crisis was "devastating" for the sector financially and that if pubs weren't allowed to reopen until the end of September, they might have to close for good, the Metro newspaper reported. "We could be losing 40 per cent of our businesses if they do not open by the end of September. That equates to about 15,000 pubs and breweries," she said.
Pubs will face a "double hit" when they do reopen because people who have been warned off socialising during lockdown may fear going out in groups or to stay out for lengthy periods. The perceived vision of people cramming into pubs once they eventually reopen was "something of the past", she warned. "There are going to be much fewer people inside our pubs and that is part of the reality going forward.
Various factors come into play
"In the current situation, people are nervous about going out, but they are definitely nervous about socialising in the way they used to and it will take time to build that consumer confidence," the Metro newspaper quoted McClarkin as saying. She further said that the two-metre distancing rule would also limit indoor capacity by about 70 per cent.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to reveal the government's "road map" on how the UK's lockdown measures will be eased. But McClarkin said that while it was important for pubs to start trading again, opening in the wrong conditions would not be in "anyone's interests". "A fatal blow for many pubs would be a secondary closure" if a second wave of the pandemic hits the UK, she said.