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Learn & Discover

Opening the doors on my local

The pubs ecosystem during COVID

Every pub sits amid a web of connections. Every new government Covid-19 edict that restricts the actions of the cask beer drinking public sends vibrations down the silvery threads of that web. I checked in on how my own local pubs in Leicester and Leicestershire are coping with lockdown and how they are planning for the future.

Laura Hadland

A food and drink writer, photographer, competition judge & CAMRA member. Laura’s an award winning blogger at Extreme Housewifery and is the author of ’50 years of CAMRA’. She runs a creative agency for SME’s called Thirst Media. 

Beer dispense containers 

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Emma Inch

A CAMRA member since 1997, John is volunteer with a keen interest in the technicalities of beer dispense, a GBBF bar manager, editor of Manchester’s Beer Buzz magazine and sits on CAMRA’s Technical Advisory Group.

A heavy toll

I write from deep within the undergrowth, as it were. A thick jungle of limitations, legal restrictions and bans feels heavy upon me even though I am just an observer. It is January 2021 and pubs in all corners of the UK are closed. We are experiencing the third national lockdown and more than 100,000 people have died from Coronavirus. Most in the trade don’t expect to reopen until Easter, or May, or even later still in the year. 

When surveyed in late December 2020 “almost 1 in 5 hospitality businesses (19%) had ‘low confidence’ that their business would survive the next 3 months.”[1] The Financial Times reported that 80% of UK pubs face a ‘perilous position.’[2]These pubs are unique flowers. Their size, facilities, location and team means they all face a very individual journey in the current climate.

 

A heavy toll

I write from deep within the undergrowth, as it were. A thick jungle of limitations, legal restrictions and bans feels heavy upon me even though I am just an observer. It is January 2021 and pubs in all corners of the UK are closed. We are experiencing the third national lockdown and more than 100,000 people have died from Coronavirus. Most in the trade don’t expect to reopen until Easter, or May, or even later still in the year.  

When surveyed in late December 2020 “almost 1 in 5 hospitality businesses (19%) had ‘low confidence’ that their business would survive the next 3 months.”[1] The Financial Times reported that 80% of UK pubs face a ‘perilous position.’[2]These pubs are unique flowers. Their size, facilities, location and team means they all face a very individual journey in the current climate.

“The food & accommodation sector has been one of the hardest hit sectors by the pandemic. Restrictions on trading have disproportionately impacted hospitality businesses”

 

— Briefing Paper: Number CBP 9111, 8 January 2021, Hospitality industry and Covid-19

The Prime Minister told the public to avoid pubs, bars and restaurants on 16th March 2020 and then formally ordered them closed except for takeaway and delivery on 20th March. The Black Horse [3] in Aylestone, a cosy community pub, saw just three customers in the whole day before they were formally closed, when they would normally expect 50 punters at any one time in the evening.

Growing fears about the pandemic also took their toll on levels of custom in the smart, high-quality food led pubs run by the Beautiful Pubs Collective [4] in Leicester city and the county. “Over 50% of our bookings were cancelled or postponed and our daily income started reducing rapidly” owner Sam Hagger recalls. “On 15th March we made the difficult decision to start closing our pubs prior to the government’s forced closure as our wage costs were higher than our income. We temporarily laid off over 80 people one day before furlough was announced, a day which I refer to as the darkest in my career.”

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam lobortis vel sapien nec faucibus. Morbi consectetur pulvinar lectus, vitae sodales tellus. Sed sagittis aliquam convallis. Duis mollis libero eu massa luctus, id euismod urna fringilla. Aenean condimentum accumsan leo nec eleifend. Maecenas ullamcorper est non justo pulvinar accumsan. Nam facilisis, lacus a aliquet ornare, metus velit mattis leo, eget sodales quam ligula et nisl. 

“I don’t want support, I want to open the pub. Give me an opportunity to make my customers safe, give me an opportunity to make a living”

 

— Alan Merryweather, Aylestone Black Horse

“…our continued delivery services have been a lifeline and allowed us to keep providing a service in light of changing restrictions on takeaway alcohol”

 

— Alice Baker, The Two-Tailed Lion

“I have worked in the trade for over 20 years without a gap. I desperately miss the one-to-ones with team and guests as well as the satisfaction that running great pubs brings.”

– Sam Hagger, The Beautiful Pub Collective

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