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England’s publicans wait for stimulus package after Super Saturday reopening

An industry representative said the government should support jobs with the furlough scheme, a scheme to renegotiate rent and a VAT cut

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Newly-reopened pubs and bars in England are waiting to see whether the stimulus package to be announced by the Treasury this week will give some respite to subdued trading.

The anticipated ‘Super Saturday’ was relatively tame in most parts of the UK, with the surge in criminality and A&E admissions not coming in as high as expected.

READ: Super Saturday to bring new normal for pubs and patrons

“Pleasingly, we did not see last night the kind of scenes that people feared,” head of NHS Simon Stevens told the BBC.

“The foolish few but the sensible majority is I think the story across the country, and long may that continue.”

There was controversy over crowding in certain areas, such as Soho in London, but a small number of venues closed early following officers’ advice, the Met police told The Guardian.

The City Pub Group PLC (LON:CPC) said trading was better in venues with more outdoors space as customers were reluctant to gather inside, even with safety measures.

“It was not quite the rush that I expected, I thought there would be more enthusiasm as pubs reopened,” executive chairman Clive Watson told Proactive. But it was steady… It was fine.”

According to Watson, the upcoming Treasury announcement should aim at supporting jobs in the hospitality sector, which is risking a spate of redundancies as early as this month.

“Even with one metre [social distancing] we are still in a state of lockdown to a certain extent, we will still need the furlough scheme… Otherwise lots of pub and restaurant companies will start laying off people.”

READ: Coronavirus: Is the Treasury to propose ‘helicopter money’ measures to encourage public spending?

Companies are facing increased costs to maintain safety requirements, however distancing measures remain a big obstacle for trading.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak should implement a scheme to help those tenants struggling to pay rent, Watson added, while chopping VAT would allow to lower prices and encourage public spending.

Concerning the £500 voucher for all adults to spend in the most struggling sectors, he said it may not be so beneficial for hospitality players.

“In our industry, it won’t help that much because the problem we have is social distancing. The atmosphere is not as good,” he concluded.

“Even if people have the £500 voucher, they won’t go to the pub... They will spend it on a sofa or electrical equipment.”

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Clive Watson, executive chairman at The City Pub Group (LON:CPC) says the group is raring to go as the time pubs are allowed to re-open in the UK again gets nearer. Around 40 of its 47 pubs have what Watson describes as very good beer gardens and it is these type of outlets that are expected...

on 28/5/20

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