Hospitality sector reels from latest tightening of Covid restrictions

Wales' largest brewery has announced that more than 100 of its pubs will be closed until further notice from Friday as businesses in the hospitality sector react angrily to the Welsh government's latest tightening of coronavirus restrictions.

Brains posted on their website that it would close all venues "until further notice" to protect the long-term future of its pubs.

It comes after the government's announcement on Monday, with hospitality venues - pubs, bars and restaurants - being told they would have to close by 6pm from Friday onwards.

They will not be able to sell any alcohol in the venues at all at any point in the day or night. 

Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said the measures would 'devastate' the sector.

He said: "Well we're really horrified by the measures that have been announced by the Welsh government.

"We've been looking at the restrictions in England and been arguing that the evidence that's been presented is completely unconvincing that pubs, and indeed pubs that are serving alcohol, are responsible for spreading the virus.

"To see Wales, presumably based on that same evidence...say that pubs cannot serve alcohol full stop and have to close by 6pm just seems draconian and it's going to absolutely devastate the pub, the hospitality and importantly the brewer and the cider-producing industry in Wales."

Hospitality venues will no longer be able to serve alcohol from Friday Credit: PA Images

Patrick Barry, who runs Patrick's Bar in Upper Bangor, said the measures meant he was now having to reassess his plans for December.

He said: "I just can't see many coming in at all - they don't come here for lemonade and I can't even serve them a shandy."We don't really have a big market for takeaway beers and the students will go soon, so there is no point staying open while these rules are in place."The supermarkets are the winners again - no track and trace, no wiping everything down but they can keep selling alcohol and people will buy it there and some will mix in homes, we see it here already with a lot of students."He added: "I've also ordered a Christmas tree, I don't even know if it's worth picking up now."

Pub landlord Patrick Barry said his plans for December will now have to change Credit: Daily Post Wales

UKHospitality Cymru, an industry body that represents the Welsh hospitality sector, said it did take some comfort from the Welsh government's financial aid package but stressed these latest measures could 'be a hurdle too many'.

David Chapman, executive director, said: "Let’s be clear: at this time of year, when businesses can trade up to 25 per cent of annual turnover - and above - the new restrictions are a massive blow to hospitality in Wales as well as our loyal customers and workforce as we head towards Christmas and the New Year."We feel isolated and feel we are unjustly bearing the brunt of Government actions when retail and other areas are allowed to trade relatively unhindered."These businesses have been devastated all year, struggled to stay afloat in the face of diminished consumer confidence and stifling measures and, even with the financial support,  this could be a hurdle too many."We can take some comfort from the swift response to our direct appeals for vital support by the financial support being offered by the Welsh Government, though."Such severe restrictions necessitated a similarly large package of support to offset the measures and ensure that businesses stay alive and jobs remain open."There are still losers in this package and some of our bigger hotels could still be inadequately assisted."

The Welsh government has defended its decision to tighten restrictions around hospitality settings.

On Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said he sympathised with those in the sector but that there was existing evidence to support the move.

He said: "When people meet together in a hospitality setting, you're not just having a glancing encounter with somebody as you do if you're going around a supermarket.

"You're sitting together with people for a significant period of time, and the evidence I'm afraid is just there."

"It's a matter of deep regret because of all the work the sector has done and the people who work in it."

The government also announced a financial support package of £340m for hospitality businesses affected by the new regulations, a support measure it called 'the most generous package of financial assistance anywhere in the United Kingdom.’

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