Kent pub chain chief Shepherd Neame calls for an end to social distancing and clarity on the final end of the lockdown – –

Kent pub chain chief Shepherd Neame calls for an end to social distancing and clarity on the final end of the lockdown – –

The head of a Kent brewery and pub chain has asked the government for clarification amid warnings to the industry if the easing of lockdown restrictions is delayed beyond June 21.
The Prime Minister is due to announce tomorrow whether or not the fourth step of the roadmap outside of the pandemic restrictions will continue as planned.

Jonathan Neame, managing director of Faversham-based Shepherd Neame, said the government must confirm a firm date for removing all restrictions on delays and avoiding recurring reviews.

“The key thing right now is certainty. If there is to be a delay, it has to be short and to the point because we have to be absolutely certain that things will change from that date, ”he told the PA News Agency.

“What we absolutely can’t have is going back to a five-week exam cycle without knowing how it’s going to end. “

For the six months ending December 2020, the company reported a statutory loss of £ 7.2million before tax. A year earlier, the same period had generated a profit of £ 5.4million.

The head of a Kent pub chain believes later this month is a good time to remove social distancing rules. Pictured is Minnis Bay in Birchington

Shepherd Neame has over 300 pubs in Kent and the South East and Mr Neame has said the end of social distancing should not be put aside.

He added: “The basis has always been the rationale we need to reduce hospitalizations and reduce the burden on the NHS.

“We saw the strength of the vaccine roll out, so it looks like we did what was necessary to achieve it, so let’s not move the goalposts now.

“The end will also have to see the complete end of social distancing. It’s one thing if you are looking at a country pub with a large garden, but removing the distance is essential to make so many bars and pubs viable. “

The latest industry figures revealed that pubs, bars and restaurants reported a 26% drop in sales in May despite the easing of restrictions, with bar companies the hardest hit.

Jonathan Neame says hospitality industry needs clarity on final easing of lockdown
Jonathan Neame says hospitality industry needs clarity on final easing of lockdown

Kate Nicholls, managing director of trade body UK Hospitality, also pointed out that thousands of operators will continue to lose money until the final phase of the roadmap to get out of lockdown restrictions.

She said: “Hotel businesses cannot continue to operate under conditions that prevent them from trading profitably and therefore we echo the importance of government support if there is a delay in fully lifting restrictions on the 21st. July. “

Ms Nicholls added that it will be necessary to rethink the financial support which should disappear or change from the end of June.

Currently, the moratorium on rent payments is set to expire at the end of the month, with holiday rates for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses moving from full relief at the end of this month to a discount. limited to £ 2million.

“Among other measures, the government must postpone payments of commercial tariffs until at least October and extend the moratorium on rents until a long-term solution is found,” said the head of the organization. professional.

“Businesses need a quick engagement and publicly stated that such support will be in place in the event of a delay, which will give them the reassurance they need so much after more than 15 months of shutdown and severe trading. disturbed.

“Hospitality is desperate to get back to what it does best and can play a key role in the UK’s economic recovery – but only if it receives the right support. “

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is treading cautiously as the decision to lift the lockdown on June 21 looms as the rise of the Delta variant of the virus has cast that into question.

The Delta variant – first identified in India – is now believed to be responsible for nine out of ten cases of Covid-19 nationwide.

Scientists have warned that if the increase in strain cases is not controlled, we may again be faced with the prospect of hospitals overflowing, threatening to have an additional impact on the treatment of non-Covid diseases .

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