Pub goers urged to abide by social distancing rules and avoid 'selfish' behaviour to help stop a swathe of pub closures

Yorkshire’s pub landlords are “scared stiff” by the “selfish” behaviour of a minority of punters who refuse to abide by social distancing rules, according to a consumer organisation.

Pub goers are urged to act responsibly

Many publicans are worried about the spread of Covid-19, particularly as part of Yorkshire have seen some of the highest rates of positive cases in recent weeks.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) urged people visiting pubs to think responsibly and not make the pandemic worse for pubs, many of whom are struggling financially due to the restrictions.

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Kevin Keaveny, CAMRA regional director for Yorkshire said tourists from outside the region can be a concern, particularly in tourist towns and cities.

“Something that bothers a lot of publicans is the people coming back from Spain, for example, trying to beat the quarantine and heading straight for the pub, without thinking about anyone else.

“One publican told me that regular customers are not a problem but he was very wary of strangers coming in. Most people behave themselves but some of them get one or two beers down their neck and don’t think about social distancing. Then the pub gets bad reviews on TripAdvisor because people don’t like the staff trying to enforce the rules.”

This comes as thousands of pub closures could be on the horizon if the Government does not heed advice and extend business rate relief, representatives from across the industry have warned.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) believes the bill, which could be due in March and amounts to an average cost of £25,000 per rate-paying pub, could be “the last straw for many” and force them to close for good.

UK pubs will immediately face a bill if pub sector specific relief on business rates ends as planned in March 2021, the BBPA says.

Thousands of pubs which have been hit hard by coronavirus could not cover the cost of such a large bill, according to the BBPA, which is calling on the Government to extend its pub sector relief on business rates for at least another year.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ““There are over 4,500 pubs across Yorkshire and the Humber so it is clear that they form a vital part of many local communities.

“Many of the jobs they support, around 100,000 of them in the region, will be put at risk by the business rates bombshell coming next year unless the Government takes action.

“Given that all these pubs made it through the lockdown - over 15 weeks without being able to open their doors - and have remained viable businesses despite social distancing and significantly lower footfall, it would be devastating for them to fall at the final hurdle in the post-lockdown recovery.

“It would mean much of the Government’s vital support for the sector through lockdown would have been wasted.”

The UK’s beer and pub sector employs a total of 900,000 people, including 600,000 workers who are directly employed in pubs.

Mr Keaveny warned that business rate bills could tip pubs in the region over the edge as many pubs were already struggling or behind on other payments.

He said: “Many publicans owe back rent and those bills will start coming in at the same time.

“Lots of pubs have been working at 50 per cent capacity or less since they reopened, it’s been very hard for them.

“During this time, they’ve still had to pay rent and monthly charges for cellar equipment that they can’t just stop paying.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “We have stood by pubs and the communities they serve throughout the pandemic, providing targeted support for the sector including business rates holidays and cash grants of up to £25,000.

“The Eat Out to Help Out initiative also supported two million jobs in the hospitality sector, and the industry is also benefiting from a reduced rate of VAT until January 2021.

“The coronavirus job retention scheme will have been open for eight months from start to finish, with the Government helping to pay the wages of over 9.6 million jobs so far.

“And support doesn’t end in October, with the furlough bonus paying £1,000 per employee for those brought back to work and kept in employment into 2021.”

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has benefitted many pubs, particualarly those in towns and villages that rely on food service, though it was of little benefit to venues that do not serve food as it did not cover alcohol sales.