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Press Release

30/09/2020

Under curfew and current trading restrictions many pubs and breweries will not last until Christmas, CAMRA NI warns

CAMRA calls on the Executive to bring forward financial support to save pubs from shutting their doors for good.

Introduce a new financial support package for pubs affected by COVID restrictions including the new 11pm curfew – or risk many pubs and local breweries closing for good.

That’s the message to the Executive from consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale, which represents pub goers and beer drinkers across Northern Ireland.

In a letter to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister CAMRA NI also ask the Executive to publish the scientific evidence behind curfews and other restrictions on pubs over and above other types of businesses.

It comes as CAMRA fears the latest curfew announcement will reduce consumer confidence in pubgoing, which has led to renewed calls for an urgent package of financial support to protect jobs and keep pubs open and thriving in the months ahead.

CAMRA NI Chairperson Ruth Sloan said:

“Pubs that have already spent thousands making their premises COVID-secure now face dwindling levels of trade as a result of the extra curfew restrictions, which will undoubtedly lead to permanent closure for some businesses who just won’t be able to make ends meet.

“Not only will this see many people lose their jobs, but communities in our cities, towns and villages will lose a vital part of their social fabric and a safe space to enjoy a drink with friends and family.

Publicans and pubgoers want to do the right thing and enjoy a drink safely and responsibly and understand why restrictions are necessary to make venues Covid-secure. But without a new financial support package for pubs whose trade has been hit by closure, curfew and damaged consumer confidence, we risk losing many well-loved local pubs and breweries by Christmas.”

Notes to editors:

The full text of the letter from CAMRA NI to the First and Deputy First Minister is as follows:

Arlene Foster MLA and Michelle O’Neill MLA

First Minister and Deputy First Minister 

SD03 Stormont Castle

BELFAST

BT4 3TT

30 September 2020 

Dear First Minister and Deputy First Minister,

We are writing to you from CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, regarding the imposition of the 11pm curfew on pubs and other hospitality businesses and the need to support pubs to avoid permanent closures.

We are a consumer group representing consumers and pubgoers, and we campaign in support of the hundreds of publicans across the country that are providing a COVID secure, safe, regulated space for consumers to socialise in limited numbers.  

Pubgoers, brewers and publicans alike want to stop the spread of COVID-19, but we have concerns around the evidential basis for the curfew and the impact it will have on consumer confidence in pub going. 

We also fear that under current trading conditions, many pubs and breweries will not last until Christmas. 

We would be grateful to know if the Executive has plans to publish the data and evidence base on which the curfew decision was taken, and more generally around pubs and whether  they are a major source of transmissions.

The pubs sector provides people with a safe, regulated place to drink. What assessment has been made of the risk of people continuing to drink in homes, gardens and public places beyond the 11pm curfew – or indeed of choosing not to go out to a pub at all, and instead choosing to drink cheap alcohol from supermarkets at home?

Furthermore, there have been worrying scenes of crowds outside venues in England, Scotland and Wales at curfew time. This is something that many publicans forewarned of and is also something that they are powerless to prevent for fear of being in breach of the new regulations.  What steps are being taken to avoid these scenes here?

Pubs and pubgoers understand the need to follow the science and play their part in preventing transmission of the virus. However, the decision for 11 pm closures provides further uncertainty to publicans, jobs in the sector and raises fears of permanent pub closures.

Most publicans and pub staff are providing a COVID-secure environment for their communities, while already operating at greatly reduced levels in their efforts to keep their customers safe. In order for these businesses to continue to stay open, thrive and provide a vital meeting space for communities (and the mental health and wellbeing benefits that come with it), we desperately need a financial support package before NI’s beer and pub sector is decimated. 

We are asking that the Executive publish the evidence behind the curfew decision, and that you ensure that a proper financial support package is provided to save our pubs and brewers from certain closure.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and we look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,  

Ruth Sloan – Chair, CAMRA NI

Joe Crawford – NI Director, CAMRA

Ends

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