Pubs hit by Covid crisis as six boozers closed every week during lockdown

Hundreds of pubs have been demolished or converted in the UK since the introduction of lockdown restrictions – disappearing at a rate of six a week.

The hospitality sector has fought to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, and boozers were only able to open up indoors again last week.

Apart from periods of relaxation last summer and winter, Britain’s struggling pubs remained shut from March 2020 until April this year.

Real estate adviser Altus Group revealed that 384 boozers have been demolished or converted for a different use over the past 14 months.

However, the rate of reductions slowed down from the previous year thanks to financial support measures including furlough, business rates holidays, and hospitality grants.

On March 20 last year, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown, there were 40,886 pubs in England and Wales, including those vacant and being offered to let.

The new figures showed that on Monday, May 17, when sites reopened indoor areas, there were 40,502 pubs, reflecting a 1% decline.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced at the Spring Budget earlier this year a £150 million financial lifeline through a new Community Ownership Fund to try and help communities protect their favourite local pubs from demolition and redevelopment.

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Robert Hayton, UK president of expert services at Altus Group, said: “Pubs have endured a torrid time during the pandemic but have proved remarkably resilient aided by Government interventions such as furlough, grants, rates relief and liquidity in the form of cheap loans helping to keep the pilot light on for their reopening.”

Early statistics from the first-day indoor service revealed that sales at pubs, bars and restaurants were up by a quarter against pre-pandemic levels as punters flocked back into venues.

Figures compiled by CGA revealed that average sales at reopened venues were 24.9% higher on Monday, May 17, than on the equivalent Monday in May 2019.

On May 21, Brits braved the elements and gritted their teeth through wind and rain for their first Friday-night pint in months.

Drinkers were snapped in city-centre venues across the country as they celebrated the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Boozers can now sit inside as long as they are in groups no larger than six or more from two households.

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It marked the first weekend since November that all Brits could once again mix in indoor settings.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “The enthusiasm for the return to pubs means demand is higher.

"But there is still plenty of beer to go round for everyone. Visit your local and enjoy a fresh pint.”

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