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CAMRA calls for evidence over new pub restrictions amidst conflicting Xmas rules

The Campaign for Real Ale has written to the Health Secretary urging him to explain why pubs are facing harsher lockdown restrictions than gyms and shops under the new tier system in England from the 2nd of December.

CAMRA is also levelling criticism at the decision to allow household mixing over Christmas in people’s homes but not in COVID-secure pubs, excluding thousands of businesses from newly announced the holiday exemptions.

The consumer organisation, which represents 180,000 beer drinks and pub-goers, is calling on the Government to stop ‘scapegoating’ pubs for the pandemic and questioning why no evidence to support the restrictions has been forthcoming.

CAMRA argues that pubs have invested thousands to create COVID-secure environments yet are unduly shouldering the COVID burden. The organisation is particularly concerned for the nation’s wet-led pubs that will be unable to open in Tier 2 or 3 areas after the 2nd of December due to the new requirement that pubs to provide a ‘substantial meal’ with alcohol.

The Campaign argues that a new, dedicated financial support package is vital to safeguarding the future of local pubs and the breweries that serve them, warning that thousands will close this winter without intervention.

CAMRA National Chairman Nik Antona said, “Pubs and pub-goers are more than willing to play their part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 – indeed, many publicans have invested thousands to ensure they offered COVID-secure environments over the last few months.

'Yet pubs continue to be singled out as a scapegoat for the spread of COVID-19 without any compelling evidence to support the claim. These incoherent and inconsistent restrictions will decimate businesses, cost jobs and lead to the loss of community pubs up and down the country.

“This is a make-or-break moment for thousands of community pubs that now face measures such as only being allowed to serve alcohol with a substantial meal - without any evidence presented that this measure would help to control the virus.

“To make matters worse, whilst people will be able to mix in people’s homes over the festive period pubs won’t be able to open normally over the same period, a decision that spells doom instead of cheer for pubs this Christmas.

“The Government must urgently publish the evidence behind their decisions – or think again about these new measures. With 72% of hospitality businesses saying they expect to fail next year - even before these new restrictions were announced – it is clear that pubs and breweries urgently need a new, dedicated financial support package to survive.”