I recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for pubs, especially here in Cheadle, where due to our elevated case rate in the autumn, our pubs have had even less respite from pandemic restrictions than those in other parts of the country.
Unfortunately, due to the new, even more contagious variant of the virus, another national lockdown was necessary to get the virus back under control. We know the virus thrives on social interaction, especially when people are close to one another for a long time without face coverings.
The Government is concerned about people purchasing takeaway drinks from pubs and bars in particular, and gathering unlawfully to drink them together nearby. Therefore, it has taken the difficult decision to restrict pubs and bars to selling alcohol by delivery only during this lockdown. While I appreciate that this is another blow to our hospitality sector, I also understand the Government’s desire to err on the side of caution.
It is vital that we support pubs through this pandemic, so they can thrive again upon reopening, and therefore I am pleased that businesses required to close under the new lockdown are eligible for a one-off grant of up to £9,000, plus Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 per month. The business rate discount for small pubs has also been increased, HMRC has made it easier to claim back duty on beer thrown away due to pub closures, and the furlough scheme has been extended to April, which will all help pubs and bars during this difficult time.