British pub faces extinction as ‘12,000 boozers could shut for good in 2021’

Pub bosses warned of a bleak future for the great British boozer as they predicted 12,000 could shut for good in 2021.

The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and with England entering a third national lockdown, there appears to be little sign of light at the end of the tunnel.

It has been suggested that pubs should stay shut until May with government scientists saying that will be crucial in helping to bringing down the Covid-19 rate of infection.

With around half of pubs still waiting for their latest support grant, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin warned as many as 12,000 pubs could succumb to the pandemic, equating to roughly one in four and costing a shocking 290,000 jobs.

She said: "We need hope and we need it now. The industry won't be able to survive until May, this is by far the bleakest lockdown.

"It's a game of snakes and ladders, it's two steps forward and one back.

"It's really frustrating. Normally pubs will have come off the busiest period of the year, Christmas and New Year, but they haven't had that and many are experiencing the cash burn effect.

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"Some might have weeks, others might have months left."

Takeaway pints were banned by the third national lockdown, removing a crucial income stream for many pubs struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.

Industry chiefs also criticise what they see as the "singling out" of the hospitality sector throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Ms McClarkin said: "The ability to serve takeaway beer has been hit by the latest lockdown and that could be the different between dying and surviving for some pubs.

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"The singling out of hospitality for restrictions is a hangover we have to deal with.

"It's really down to the wire for some pubs, the support package from the November lockdown is running out and many are still waiting for their grant from this round.

"They can go to lenders and investors, but the outlook is pretty bleak for the industry at the moment so who would lend to them?"

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Pub bosses are hanging their hopes on the vaccination rollout accelerating the easing of lockdown.

On Thursday it was reported that some optimistic government ministers hoped the pubs could reopen by March, but more cautious representatives believe it will be at least April until the rules can be relaxed.

The speed of the vaccination rollout is likely to be linked to the easing of lockdown, and the pub industry is no different.

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Ms McClarkin added: "As with most of the country, the vaccination rollout is key for us. When there is an indication that it is moving along and that will help sustain us through the hard times.

"We want to be part of the solution. We can be a safe, responsible environment for people to come to, it will kickstart the economy and start creating new jobs.

"The great British pub is a fine institution and many of them are at the centre of their communities, they are also crucial for mental health.

"It will take time and people may be nervous but we are sure we can help people regain their confidence to go to the pub again."

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