The landlord of a former CAMRA pub of the year has predicted a “bloodbath in the industry” if Boris Johnson forces all public houses to serve food with their drinks as part of new Covid restrictions.
Peter Tiley, landlord of The Salutation Inn, in Ham, Berkeley, and the Butcher’s Hook in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, spoke out after industry leaders raised fears that pubs will be allowed to open ‘in name only’.
Pubs in some areas will only be able to serve alcoholic drinks with “substantial” meals, something he says is not an option for him under the current circumstances.
And UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls told Sky News that 75 per cent of businesses in the sector will be “unviable” if the restrictions last beyond December without further help from the Government.
“In my opinion we are the sacrificial lambs,” said Mr Tiley.
“I’m not against restrictions but they should be appropriate and proportionate and based on the science.
“We have been limping along until now but it will not be worth us reopening if we are in Tiers Two or Three.
“Losing Christmas would be disastrous. There would be a bloodbath in the industry.”
Mr Tiley gave up a five-figure salary job in the city to go into the hospitality trade and a few years ago he was rewarded when the Salutation was voted CAMRA pub of the year.
He was also praised for his refurbishment of the Butcher’s Hook.
But the last year has been a battle to stay afloat and Chancellor Rishi Sunak has admitted that the regional Tier system predicted to come into force when the English lockdown ends on December 2 will be even ‘tougher’ .
Boris Johnson is expected to reveal what parts of the country will be in which tier on Thursday but Government sources have briefed national newspapers to say ‘most people’ would be placed in tiers two and three.
Mr Tiley says it will only be worth opening ‘wet pubs’ like his if they are in Tier One which is predicted to mean a 11pm curfew and tighter rules on household mixing.
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But he fears the Butcher’s Hook will be in Tier Three and The Salutation Tier Two, in which case it will not be worth opening because he does not serve food.
Tier Three pubs are expected to be restricted to a takeaway service and those in Tier Two only allowed to serve alcohol with ‘substantial meals’,
Only 20 per cent of customers ordered meals so when the restrictions came in he could only open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and could not offer his chef enough shifts.
Food is not financially viable for us and it’s not what most of our customers want,” he said.
“Wet-led pubs like mine provide an environment for people in rural areas to socialise and it also acts as a support network.
“I can already see that some of my customers, particularly those who live on their own, are struggling because they cannot meet their friends or talk to people.”
Home deliveries kept his head above water during the first lockdown but now summer is over people are Covid fatigued, worried about their jobs and less likely to order a take out.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said about the predictions of what the government is planning.
“We have invested thousands of pounds installing a marquee, an outdoor heating system, track and trace, extra furniture, table service and all the other measures needed to keep people safe.
“Yet despite us working hard and being meticulous, the Government seem hellbent on allowing people meet up in un-sanitised homes where nobody will be telling people to sit two metres apart.
“Hospitality is not the problem but we are an easy target for the Government when they want a quick win. It will be death by a thousand cuts.”