As the UK faces the uphill task of resurrecting economy which suffered due to the onslaught of Covid-19 outbreak, one of the hardest hit businesses has been the pubs. There are fears that close to 15,000 of them face permanent closure if the lockdown is not lifted sooner than later.
Industry experts have painted a very grim picture of the business. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, was quoted as saying that 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.
"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 face a double whammy as and when they open after the lockdown is relaxed. Even after the waiver, when they do reopen, people may stay away as they would have been warned abut socialising and could fear going out in groups or staying 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.
McClarkin said, "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." She said that the two-metre distancing rule would also limit indoor capacity by about 70 per cent.
Experts contended 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 country, McClarkin said.