Any beer left in pub cellars when pubs are forced to close for a second lockdown will have to be ‘tipped down the drain’, pub bosses warned, as it emerged restrictions are set to include a ban on selling takeaway pints.
Under the new regulations, which come into effect on Thursday, pubs and bars will not be able to serve alcohol to take away – as was permitted during the first lockdown.
It will be another blow to the beleagured hospitality industry that has been left reeling by the announcement of a second lockdown.
Under the new measures all pubs, bars and restaurants will be forced to close for at least a month as coronavirus cases rise.
Takeaway pints were allowed as the first lockdown was eased and was credited with helping many hard-hit pubs stay afloat after the first lockdown.
Takeaway pints were popular when pubs were allowed to partially reopen following the easing of restrictions after the first lockdown. Pictured: Three friends enjoy a beer on Wandsworth Common earlier this year
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of the Shepherd Neame brewery, said that the new measures were ‘soul-destroying’.
Speaking on the Today programme he said the hospitality industry had ‘zero trust’ in the Government.
‘During lockdown one there was terrific support for local pubs from local communities,’ he said.
‘People want their pubs, they came back in droves. They want to see the pubs survive and thrive.
‘They want them to be there for their children’s generation so they bought into the take home thing.
‘Now we’re told that all the beer that is in pub cellars, we can’t even sell a pint of ale as a takeaway with a meal during lockdown, so we’ve got to tip that all down the drain.’
Official guidelines state that although restaurants, bars and pubs must close from Thursday, food takeaway and delivery services are still permitted.
People also took advantage of relaxed social distancing measures in parks and green spaces when pubs reopened to serve takeaway pints after the first lockdown
The move was widely credited with helping some hard-hit hospitality businesses stay afloat after two months of lockdown
Several independent breweries have voiced their concerns online and asked to be given ‘a fighting chance’ by being allowed to serve alcohol to take away.
During the first national lockdown around 2,000 pubs, breweries and cideries were put into a directory of venues, to encourage beer and cider drinkers to support the industry.
The move was credited with boosting the struggling hospitality industry after pubs, bars and restaurants had remained closed throughout the first lockdown.
With the sunny weather coinciding with the easing of lockdown, particularly around the May bank holiday, Brits flocked to buy takeaway pints from partially opened pubs and bars.
The drinkers could then enjoy their drinks at the required social distance off the premesis, and many were seen making the most of parks and open green spaces.
As the colder weather approached and further restrictions came into place , pubs and bars invested in outdoor heating and tents to help them adhere to the new rules and still welcome drinkers through their doors.
Their outdoor awnings helped drinks to follow Covid-19 rules and ensure those living in tier two areas such as London could still meet ‘outside’ in groups of up to six.
The Red Lion in the Derbyshire village of Hollington was one of many pubs to put up a marquee earlier this year which allowed punters to meet up in line with Covid restrictions
Punters enjoy a drink under a marquee with outdoor heating at The Three Tuns in Guilden Morden, Cambridgeshire
Pubs in tier two under ‘high’ alert were not allowed to seat anyone from different households indoors, but the marquees could be classed as outdoor seating as long as the ends are opened up.
The move to outdoor seating resulted in a boom in business for marquee manufacturers – with one in Surrey saying demand rose by 500 per cent and another in South Yorkshire posting monthly sales of more than £1million.
But under the new restrictions, all pubs, bars and restaurants have to close, meaning the cash spent on the outdoor seating areas will go to waste.
It will be another hard hit to the already struggling bank balances of many in the industry.
James Calder, CEO of the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba), said he had raised ‘urgent questions’ with the Government about the restrictions on takeaway alcohol.
‘Very worrying that guidance seems to suggest that pubs can continue takeaway food, but not takeaway pints,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘Significant and unjustified extension over lockdown one. Have raised urgent questions with departments, MPs and Ministers.’
A spokesperson for Whetherspoons said the decision did not affect them as they do not offer takeaway.