Though there have been no official announcements from the government to this effect, we are of course paying close attention to any updates that may impact the hospitality industry.
We also want to be very clear on our stance, as in conjunction with local lockdown discussions, we have observed the re-surfacing of a rhetoric which demonises the pub industry and uses it as a scapegoat for wider societal issues.
Along with countless other pubs and bars across the UK, we have invested extensive amounts of money, time and energy into making our venues not just “Covid-Compliant” but as safe as possible for our customers, colleagues and communities. We have exceeded these guidelines voluntarily, out of our strong moral obligations to protect the health and wellbeing of anyone who steps foot on our premises.
The feedback on these procedures and the support received from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Behaviour has been respectful, helpful and encouraging. Our pubs are calm, joyful spaces where people come to be socially connected while physically distancing. Our front-of-house teams have been commended for their service, which not only requires practical skill but pastoral care, now more than ever. They are dedicated and determined individuals, who we are incredibly proud of.
However, the rhetoric around pubs continues to diminish these individuals and our trade, often painting pubs as an opportunity to drink to excess and those in the industry as self-serving. This is untrue and unfair, and has the potential to cripple an industry which employs millions and contributes billions, when it is at its most vulnerable.
It would be completely wrong to undermine these efforts by using well-run pubs as scapegoats and we are therefore calling on campaigners to consider the damage that the further closure of these venues would cause; it would be the final nail in the coffin for many and the impacts would be incomprehensible. The chain of other businesses affected would include, but certainly isn’t limited to: breweries, hop and malt growers, winemakers, distillers, cider makers, fruit and vegetable growers and markets, butchers and bakeries, security personnel, service people, cleaning companies, administrators, sales people, marketers and even local councils directly.
Not to mention, of course, the vital part that pubs play in the community and the ways in which they nourish the mental health of our society. They provide safe havens for families and friends to make memories. Pubs and bars offer spaces for creatives, poets, musicians and more, are an essential forum for charity fundraising and interest groups.
We do want to state, for the record, that there are certainly some pubs and bars (along with some shops and other establishments) which are not behaving responsibly at the moment.
If there is a call to close establishments to make way for schools, we ask that it be irresponsibility run venues first and foremost, and that well-run pubs and bars are protected and supported both in rhetoric and in policy. Do not do further damage to an industry on its knees.
We would like to congratulate our friends in the hospitality trade who have re-opened or are planning to re-open with the safety of all in mind. In Nottingham City alone there are many heart-warming examples of businesses going the extra mile, and we are proud to stand with you.
We call on the government and local councils across the UK to take action on irresponsible venues immediately, in order to protect the safety of its citizens, and in order to protect a skilful, passionate, dynamic industry which offers so much to so many.