Dave Mountford, a publican and activist at the Forum for British Pubs, told Sky News that at least 2,000 pubs have already closed for good.
He said the rest will need significant financial assistance.
“Ads will need additional financial support for years to recover,” said Mountford.
“Many pubs will reopen with huge debt. They took rebound loans but this industry has not rebounded and we don’t know if drinkers will come back even in damp pubs.
“Will people get used to drinking at home over the past year? If I’m being honest it’s a pretty bleak future. ”
In Chinley, a rural village in Derbyshire, the Old Hall Inn is preparing to reopen in mid-April.
Owner Dan Capper called the past year “brutal.”
He said, “We thought we would be closed for weeks, not months, not a year.
“We took on significant debt to help us get through this. We’re confident we can bring it back, but that doesn’t make things any less painful or difficult. ”
Due to local restrictions, Mr Capper’s pub and restaurant never reopened after the November lockdown.
His team of 68 employees was fired and he said: “Seeing an empty pub is so soulless. ”
As is the case with all theaters, the next few months will be critical.
Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s overnight economics adviser, has launched a case in the High Court to challenge the delayed opening of domestic hospitality, asking the government for “evidence or justification” as to why non-essential trade is able to reopen before inner hospitality.
But in the meantime, many local council amenity teams are working with pubs, bars, and restaurants to help transform nearby public outdoor space into areas for drinkers and dining.
At the Old Hall Inn, the pub garden has been covered with tents and outdoor heaters to safely maximize space when restrictions partially lift on April 12.
Mr Capper said: “We don’t know what we’re going to open up to – how busy we are or whatever, so we just make sure to start slow.
“I look forward to getting our staff and customers back. ”
Meanwhile, the government has announced new funding to refresh the look of main streets and seaside towns in hopes they will attract tourists this summer.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the councils would receive £ 56million to clean up graffiti, greenery from plants, invest in seating and landscaping and market pop-up food stalls.
“This funding will help councils and businesses welcome buyers, diners and tourists safely,” he said.
“As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to support our local businesses and take advantage of everything this country has to offer that we have missed so much.
“I authorize every pub in the country to erect a marquee in their garden all summer long as a unique power to support our people. ”
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The initiative was greeted as a “good first step” by John Turner, chief executive of Visit Somerset, but he warned that support should go further to cover the huge losses caused by the pandemic.
“We have seen about 70% of our revenue from our business completely wiped out during this time which has been… devastating for us,” he said.
“However, we are now seeing that pent-up demand and we hope to see a resurgence coming back for this particular summer. ”