Pub bosses slam coronavirus curfew as ‘crushing blow for industry on its knees’

Pub bosses have complained that the government's curfew plan is "another crushing blow" for an industry "on its knees".

Publicans have signed an open letter claiming the 10pm last orders for drinkers is not supported by the evidence, warning it could "devastate" the sector.

The 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants is expected to be implemented from Thursday night as part of a range of tighter coronavirus restrictions to combat rising infections.

More than 175 pub chiefs signed an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson predicting that a curfew – or stronger measures such as a second national lockdown – would be disastrous.

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Punters are also fuming at the new measures.

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin said singling out pubs for harsher restrictions was "nuts", arguing they were safer than many people's homes.

He added: "If Boris and his discredited advisers try to impose a lockdown, in my opinion, they're toast."

The letter to Mr Johnson, coordinated by the Campaign for Pubs, pleaded that the fresh restrictions will put firms out of business and staff out of work.

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It said: "The reality is that any decision to impose further restrictions threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people.

"It risks the failure of many pub businesses and the permanent closure of thousands of pubs, irrevocably changing the face of this country, its villages, towns and cities.

"A key part of our culture, and an institution that is known and loved all around the world, namely the great British pub, is now under grave threat."

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Industry trade body the British Beer and Pub Association called on further support for the sector to save businesses.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: "It is vital that the government recognises the unprecedented challenges that pubs and brewers are facing at this time.

"As an industry we recognise the need to continue to support the government and local communities to manage the risk of rising infection rates. Pubs have been adapting to the 'new normal' over the past few months and will continue to do so, but pubs were struggling to break even before today and these latest restrictions may push some to breaking point."

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, added: "Any restrictions that impact a sector which is already on its knees and that has shown itself to be the home of responsible and safe socialising must be targeted carefully, and come with full government support, to minimise the otherwise seismic and inevitable damage to business."

The news on pub curfews came as the UK's Covid-19 alert level was raised to four on Monday, meaning the virus is "high or rising exponentially".

Many pubgoers are not convinced the new measures will help stem the flow of coronavirus infections, with some pointing out they will just drink faster or arrive at pubs earlier.

Others joked that the virus does not have a curfew.

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