The boss of Young’s has said that pubs must have the same restrictions as July when they reopen following the latest lockdown in order to avoid thousands more job losses.
Patrick Dardis, chief executive officer, told the PA news agency that anything less would be “unviable” if pub doors are kept shut until May.
It comes ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement of the “road map” out of lockdown on Monday, with reports this week suggesting pubs could have to wait until the start of May to reopen.
Mr Dardis, who leads the 190-year-old pub owner and brewer, said that he was desperate for clarity after the sector was placed in a “standstill” after Christmas.
“My greatest fear is that we are not given clear reopening plans on Monday,” he told PA.
“Opening in May is not ideal, we would massively prefer April, but at least if that is announced we have clarity we can work with.
“If it is May, we need to be able to reopen with at least the same rules in place as July 4, so we have two households inside and rule of six outside.”
He said these restrictions would also need to come alongside an extension to the current business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure, and an extension to current VAT cuts.
Mr Dardis warned that “thousands of jobs are on the line” if the reopening of pubs takes place later in the year.
All of the company’s 276 UK pubs are currently shut following the third national coronavirus lockdown.
Last week, Mr Dardis was among a number of pub chiefs to write to the Prime Minister after resigning from a weekly forum with business minister Paul Scully over frustrations regarding the sector’s dialogue with Government.
“Mr Scully was listening to us and constructive but it feels obvious to us that there were others in Government who didn’t share his position,” he said.
“I think, with suggestions around outdoor opening and no alcohol, there are people who must think ‘pubs are evil’ and still have this Victorian view of pubs as smoke-filled, dingy places.
“I’d love to take all of the cabinet to one of our pubs for a Sunday lunch so they can really see what it’s like, that it is a key cog in the community.”
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