UK pubs face uncertain times ahead due to indefinite lockdown

Pubs in the UK could be closed until the winter or even 2021, which could destroy many pub businesses.

All of the over 48000 pubs in the UK are closed, which is unprecedented in history.

As the UK enters its fifth week of national lockdown, thousands of pubs in the country are facing closures due to bankruptcy. 

“I miss going to the pubs and being social with friends. It’s a good place to relax, play pool or to watch football. And obviously football games are cancelled too,” says Jon-Marc Vukelic, a Sales Assistant at JD Sports who will start a master’s degree in history at Aberystwyth University in September. Every year, students contribute a lot to the multi-billion pound pub industry, which is estimated to contribute more than £20 billion per year to the UK economy, with revenue being considerably higher during the European or World Football Cups.

On 18 March, The British Beer & Pub Association issued a statement as well as an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak. In it, the association called for the government to pay 75% of wages for pub staff. On 26 March, the UK government announced the Job Retention Scheme, which pays 80% of workers’ salaries.

“Our sector is under a lot of pressure right now,” says Nick Lawrie, Digital Communications Manager at the British Beer & Pub Association. “I am a team of 1 and extremely busy with COVID-19 enquiries.”

Despite government help, the financial support is not enough to make up for income loss usually generated by customers. It is unclear if pubs will survive an indefinite lockdown lasting for several more months to come.

It is possible that we don’t see images such as these in public until next year.

As pubs do not have a steady flow of income, the pub industry and other industries such as hotels and travel companies that are reliant upon big events such as sports or even the weather, the Government Retention Scheme cannot subsidise or predict income that pubs would have generated over the summer months. The Euro 2020 football tournament was supposed to happen from 12 June to 12 July but was postponed to next year. During such big events, pubs tend to generate more money. For example, Pub spending in the UK is up 33% every time England plays in the World Cup.

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There are 48,349 pubs in the UK, the Mirror reported on 21 April. Pubs have existed in the UK for over 2000 years, says Ben Johnson on the website of the History and Heritage Accommodation Guide.  Not even the two World Wars forced all pubs in the country to close down.