This is when pubs could reopen in Aylesbury after Covid lockdown
Here's the latest reports on when we might be able to share a drink with friends, following yesterday's (January 27) statement from the Prime Minister.
Whether it is the popular Woolpack, Watermead Inn or any one of the many Aylesbury town centre pubs such as The Harrow or The Manor, we are all missing our favourite watering holes.
Hospitality has been one of the sectors worst impacted by the Covid pandemic, with a third of the UK’s jobs being in pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars.
With many staff furloughed, and customers desperate to get back to the pub, anticipation around the reopening of hospitality venues is being felt across the country.
Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock have now suggested lockdown could remain in place until at least Easter. So when could pubs and restaurants in Buckinghamshire reopen?
When might pubs and restaurants reopen?
There has been no date confirmed as to when pubs and restaurants can reopen, since the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown on 4 January.
However, as Johnson outlines his hopes to have schools returning to classroom learning by mid-March, sources have told the Telegraph that pubs and restaurants may not reopen until May.
Boris Johnson initially said that lockdown could begin to ease after the mid-February, but has since concluded that restrictions will not ease until March, at the earliest.
On 27 January, the Prime Minister announced that there will be a ‘gradual and phased’ approach to lifting restrictions, with the national lockdown in place until at least 8 March.
A review of lockdown will be announced in mid-February.
There is no guarantee that hospitality will reopen straight away - especially businesses which serve alcohol - as these services have been particularly hard hit by the tightest government guidelines.
There has now been reports of a three-point plan, whereby schools will reopen first, followed by non-essential shops in April and pubs and restaurants in May.
At present, it is illegal to open any non-essential hospitality setting for service, other than takeaway and delivery.
Government guidance states: “with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.”
When will tiered restrictions be lifted?
The government is likely to operate under a tiered system until all vulnerable priority groups have received their two doses of the Covid vaccine.
By 30 April in England, all over-50s and clinically extremely vulnerable people should have received their first dose and the second dose should be administered 12 weeks later.
Therefore, the greatest degree of immunisation will be achieved by 30 July - seven days after the last round of second doses are administered to these groups.
Local authorities have now been granted powers by Westminster to keep hospitality in their areas closed until 17 July 2021 if they decide to.
It has also been suggested that schools in areas with low infection rates could reopen before schools in areas with a higher number of cases.
This tiered approach could then be taken in all stages of the government’s reported three-point plan.
What impact has lockdown had on hospitality?
The hospitality industry makes up a third of the economy in the UK, and has been disproportionately impacted by the lockdowns since March 2020.
In the first three months of lockdown in 2020, the industry shrunk by 23 percent and 85 percent of the workforce was furloughed.
Research by Statistica suggests that pubs lost 44 percent of profit in March 2020 - in comparison to the same period in 2019. This rose significantly in August when lockdown eased, to a loss of only 10 percent.
However, with the closure of all pubs and the inability to sell takeaway alcoholic beverages it is expected that this will now be upwards of 90 percent.
The same could be suggested for restaurants, which suffered a 63 percent drop in sales in March 2020, when restrictions were much the same as they are currently.
As of December 2020, 279,000 jobs had been lost in the hospitality industry.
The government was accused of “killing Christmas” by UK Hospitality's chief executive Kate Nicholls, when it closed the doors of thousands of hospitality settings, only days before 25 December.
What support has the UK government offered to bars and restaurants?
The sharp rise in profits seen in August and September can be attributed to the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Although welcomed at the time, these feelings of support soon dissipated due to increased lockdown measures introduced in late September and October.
However, there has been some longer term support, such as furlough, which has paid the wages of thousands of workers across the UK, to the tune of £46.4m (December 2020).
The hospitality sector will also not be required to pay business tax for the tax year of 2020-2021.
There is also a string of bounceback loans, future funds and a business interruption loan scheme.
Rishi Sunak also announced a further one-off payment for large businesses impacted by lockdown, which will support businesses until April.You can view the financial support offered by the government on its website.