Wednesday 16 December 2020 11:22 am

Quarter of UK pubs feared closing for good even before new lockdown

More than a quarter of UK pub and bar-owners said they feared their business would fail even before the latest lockdowns in London and the south east. 

Figures from the UK’s statistics body showed that 27.9 per cent of pub and bar businesses said they had low or no confidence in surviving the next three months. 

The survey referred to the period from 2 to 15 November, as England was entering a month-long lockdown. 

It shows the huge amounts of stress the UK’s hospitality businesses were under even before the government put London, most of Essex and parts of Hertfordshire in the strictest Tier 3 restrictions overnight.

The latest lockdown – put in place to curb soaring infections – is set to deal a hammer blow to London’s vibrant food and drink sector during the crucial Christmas period.

Pubs fret ahead of Tier 3 in London

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey data showed that pubs and bars were more than five times as likely as other businesses to report low or no confidence in survival.

Nearly a quarter of pub and bar businesses said they had no remaining cash reserves or less than one month’s.

The government has insisted that the jump in coronavirus cases in London meant stricter restrictions must be put in place. Ministers announced on Monday that London would go into Tier 3 today.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Monday that cases could rise “very rapidly” if something was not done.

But lobby group UK Hospitality’s chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “So many pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels, having invested so much to make their venues safe, are only just clinging on by the skin of their teeth.”

She said businesses will be forced “to take another huge hit”. She added: “The burden of a region being moved into Tier 3 falls almost exclusively on hospitality businesses.”