Hundreds of pubs could close forever, unless Boris Johnson decides to reopen within 48 hours, the UK’s largest beer companies have warned.In an open letter to the Prime Minister, more than 50 companies said the drop in beer sales and prolonged uncertainty had brought the pub and brewery industry to “a time of maximum danger” that could cost hundreds thousands of jobs.
The signatories – from global giants such as the owner of Guinness Diageo to family brewers like Adnam’s – urged Johnson to say on Friday whether the government would allow the pubs to reopen from July 4.
The date was originally proposed by the government as part of a gradual lifting of foreclosure restrictions, including allowing non-essential stores to start trading this week. But the prime minister has yet to confirm whether the plan will continue, despite repeated calls for clarity from the industry, which claims it needs three weeks to prepare.
“Our businesses cannot afford to continue in limbo,” said the companies, including Carlsberg, Molson Coors and Greene King. “The livelihoods of thousands of tax collectors and hundreds of thousands of pub and brewery workers across the UK are at stake.
“We want to work with the government to get our breweries and pubs back on track, but we urgently need your help to make this clear.”
In addition to confirming a reopening date, the letter – coordinated by the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA) – calls on the government to issue industry-specific guidelines that employers can use to train staff.
The BBPA said that some companies had started to take staff off to prepare, while the brewers had started making beer to be ready for the return of demand.
This has increased costs for an industry that already burns £ 100 million a month to support itself in the absence of any trade, said BBPA.
The letter represents escalating pressure on the government’s beer and pub industry, which was devastated by three months of foreclosure.
Government officials hinted this month that the English beer gardens could reopen on June 22, allowing pubs with outdoor space to start earning much-needed sales sooner than expected.
But Downing Street abandoned the plan, fueling industry confusion about the reopening and raising concerns that many 47,000 pubs in the UK are not surviving the pandemic.
The Guardian contacted Downing Street and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for comment.
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