Most pubs would struggle to reopen with outdoor service only - what industry experts are saying

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 3:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 3:07 pm
The BBPA said that although around 75 per cent of pubs in the UK have a beer garden or outdoor space, only 40 per cent of pubs are likely to have a space big enough (Photo: Shutterstock)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil the Government’s plan for the roadmap out of lockdown on 22 February, which could pinpoint certain dates different industries can expect to open again.

It has recently been speculated that pubs could open by April, but only in outdoor areas such as beer gardens.

However, the British Beer & Pub Association (BPPA) has announced it believes that if this becomes the case, then 60 per cent of all pubs in the UK will not be able to reopen due to not having appropriate outdoor facilities.

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The BBPA believes this could affect around 29,000 pubs.

The association has said that the majority of pubs in the UK do not have enough outdoor space to reopen and serve customers without also opening indoors, and that pubs should be able to open inside when non-essential retail also once again opens.

The BBPA said that although around 75 per cent of pubs in the UK have a beer garden or outdoor space, only 40 per cent of pubs are likely to have a space deemed as big enough.

Only 17 per cent of pubs will therefore open, estimates the BBPA, and reduced capacity and unpredictable weather could also result in many pubs struggling to break even, the association explains.

‘All it would take is some heavy rain and they would find it has all been for nothing’

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said that pubs only being able to open outdoors would see the sector in a loss of turnover of £1.5 billion, in comparison to trading in normal times, something which is “far from reopening and recovering.”

Ms McClarkin said: "Even if some pubs did try and open outdoors only in April, all it would take is some heavy rain and they would find it has all been for nothing.

"For many pubs, gardens are at the back and the only way to access them is through the inside. And of course, toilet facilities would still need to be provided.

"We question the government's thinking behind this and suggest they consult with us as a sector on it."

“We urge the Government to open our pubs inside – and outside – when non-essential retail also opens,” Ms McClarkin added.

“By then, the vaccine will have been rolled out to millions more, and pubs can open whilst continuing to follow exemplary hygiene measures, world leading standards in guidance and social distancing.”