Ongoing social distancing measures are making British pubs unviable as businesses, industry bosses have warned, as boozers continue to suffer a hit to trade.
UK pubs traded 20 per cent lower in the first week of reopening indoors compared to the same period in 2019 before the pandemic hit.
This was despite 95 per cent of venues — some 45,000 pubs — reopening after lockdown, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
According to the trade group, the average UK pub turns over roughly £470,000 per year, meaning they would lose around £94,000 over a year if trading remained at 80 per cent.
With the average pint across the country costing £3.81, the average pub would need to sell an extra 24,672 pints to make up for the loss in revenue.
The latest stage of lockdown reopening means pubs are now able to offer indoor service. However, they are limited to six people per table indoors and bar or standing drinking is not permitted.
Landlords must also enforce one metre-plus social distancing, operate with table service only and ensure masks are worn when moving around inside.
Pub bosses have urged the government to stick to its plan of removing all Covid restrictions on 21 June, warning that ongoing restrictions were hampering the sector’s recovery and threatening the survival of many venues.
“Pubs trade on incredibly small margins, so being 20 per cent down on normal times is huge and incredibly concerning,” said Emma McClarkin, BBPA chief executive.
“What is especially worrying is that there was a lot of enthusiasm to visit the pub when they first reopened indoors. When that initial enthusiasm to return to the local cools down, trade could get even worse, leaving pubs unable to get beyond break even.”
She added: “Without restrictions removed, thousands of pubs remain unviable and could still be lost forever despite being back open for now.”
More than 75 per cent of people in the UK have now been vaccinated with a single dose, while more than half of all adults have also received their second jab.
However, doubts have been cast over whether the 21 June reopening date can go ahead as planned due to the rapid spread of the more transmissible Indian variant of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week said England was on track to ease restrictions as planned, but warned it was too early to make a final decision.