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Restaurants and pubs ‘face collapse’ during extended England lockdown Published Date: 15/06/2021

The Guardian reports that business groups call for government to support hospitality industry including nightclubs and bars.

It is reported that "The UK’s largest trade bodies joined hospitality businesses and trade unions in urging the government to change its mind and come up with new support measures, warning that businesses will be driven to the wall otherwise."

Tony Danker, the director general of Britain’s most powerful business lobby group, the CBI, said the government “must urgently revisit the support available”, including the tapering of business rates relief and a moratorium on landlords’ right to collect commercial rent.

Both are due to end on 1 July, signalling looming extra costs for debt-laden hospitality venues that will still be subject to restrictions on how many people they can serve.

The night-time economy, predominantly late-licence pubs and nightclubs, has been hit particularly hard, with most businesses having been closed for 15 months.

The Night Time Industries Association chief executive, Michael Kill, said the government had “switched the lights off” for the sector by extending restrictions – which include a bar on nightclubs reopening and limits on large events and performances – without offering any new help.

An NTIA survey found that one in four night-time economy firms, such as nightclubs and bars, don’t expect to survive the extra four weeks.

The co-founder of the London nightclub Fabric, Cameron Leslie, called the delay “a punch”, saying huge amounts had been spent getting ready for 21 June.

“You can’t just turn venues like Fabric on,” he said. “This is is a big machine that has been dismantled.”

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the delay would cost pubs £400m and demanded more support and no further delay beyond 19 July. Pubs have been operating with reduced capacity because of social-distancing guidelines and limits on household mixing.

“Every week the current restrictions stay and uncertainty continues, the likelihood of pubs being lost forever increases,” said the BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin.

“Our pubs require as a minimum an immediate three-month extension to the business rates holiday, the ability to defer loan payments due now and a further extension of VAT support.

“Grants for businesses particularly affected, such as those pubs who cannot still reopen because of the current restrictions, must now also be put in place.”

Kate Nicholls, the head of UKHospitality, which represents pubs, hotels and restaurants, said many debt-laden firms in England would struggle to cope from 1 July, when they will have to start paying business rates again, albeit at reduced rates.

“For many small pubs and independent restaurants that would be the final nail in the coffin,” she said.