Any delay to reopening will devastate pub sector says VFI

The scheduled full reopening of the hospitality sector on 5th July will mean a return to work for over 25,000 staff and the opportunity for pubs to trade during a busy summer season. The eight weeks until the end of August is a vital period for publicans as it remains the only realistic opportunity to salvage something from 2021 and tide them over until next year.

Therefore, today’s briefing there is only a “50-50” chance of reopening proceeding as planned is causing huge concern and stress to publicans and the 25,000 staff who are planning on returning to work in early July.

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says: “The comments from Government ministers that  5th July reopening may be delayed is causing huge upset and concern in the hospitality sector. With only two weeks to go it’s not acceptable to treat our members in this manner.

“There are just eight weeks in the summer season for pubs to recoup some of the massive losses accumulated over the past 15 months, so to tell publicans they may lose any of those weeks will devastate the trade. The business generated in July and August will sustain most pubs through the winter and into next year so for Government to delay reopening during the summer will impact the sector to a much greater degree than, for instance, a delay in January.

“Publicans are busy rehiring staff and ordering stock so this new uncertainty places them in an impossible position. They need immediate confirmation that reopening on 5th July will proceed as planned. The fact Government will not make a final decision until Friday 2nd July – just three days before reopening – illustrates how detached Ministers are from the realities of running a business. The mental stress this uncertainty is placing on our members cannot be overstated.

“The easing of restrictions and reopening of society has been a relatively smooth process that publicans support, including the resumption of outdoor trade on 7th June. It’s beyond belief we are now thinking of going backwards while the rest of Europe moves forward. Pubs in England reopened indoors on 17th May while pubs in Northern Ireland have been fully open for over four weeks. Denmark is allowing 40,000 spectators attend Euro 2020 matches.

“We are also facing the resumption of unrestricted travel to EU countries from 19th July. Is the Government seriously suggesting that people can travel to Spain for a pint while pubs back home remain shut?

“We’re already lagging behind the UK and mainland Europe when it comes to reopening. July 5th must proceed as planned,” says Mr Cribben.