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Only two in five pubs in England reopen

The Trade Book 77 Apr 12

By Simon Read
Business reporter, BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPubs in England cannot fully reopen until 21 June

The pub industry has warned the sector is on its knees, with only two in five English pubs reopening on Monday.

Pubs in England can serve outdoors, but need to fully open without restrictions as soon as possible, they said.

"No pub is expecting to profit from reopening outdoors, and many will make a loss," said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association.

Some 2,500 pubs are estimated to have closed for good in 2020.

"Pubs are the heart of our communities and we've all missed them. If they are to survive the long-term it's imperative they fully recover," said Ms McClarkin.

Pubs are expecting to sell about 15 million pints in the first week of reopening - about a quarter of what they would normally sell in an April week.

"Less than half of pubs in England will be reopening and the people they can serve is going to be greatly limited by their outdoor space," said Ms McClarkin.

Simon Daws, the proprietor of the Gloucester Old Spot, near Cheltenham, told the BBC: "It's fabulous to be open today,

"Our customers are as delighted to see us as we are to see them, and the atmosphere is of a new beginning and joy at the potential for a hedonistic summer, which we hope lies ahead of us."

image captionThe Old Spot used lockdown to invest more outdoor facilities.

The pub has used the last few months of lockdown to invest in its outdoor spaces. "Fire pit, lawns, patios and shelters mean we are well prepared to serve more than 200 people on 40 tables," said Mr Daws.

At the Kentish Belle pub, in Bexleyheath, south-east London, there was a "sense of celebration" in the early hours of Monday - as it opened at midnight.

Nicholas Hair, the landlord and owner, said there was "big excitement" ahead of the reopening, with lots of people still ringing to see if they could book minutes ahead of time.

"I'm hoping that this is a sort of rebirth, and that we are reopen for the foreseeable," he said.

image copyrightPrince Albert pub
image captionStaff at the Prince Albert pub in Stroud have been building the outdoor seating area ready for reopening

But Angie Uren, landlady of the Coach & Horses pub in Bradfield Green, Cheshire, said it was difficult to know whether pubgoers would return.

"It's going to be very difficult [to make money] because we don't really know what customers will want, whether they're going to come out, with it being so cold," she says.

Steve Alton, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said: "Our research shows an encouraging trend of strong demand from consumers to get back to their local pub.

"However, this early phase of reopening for many of our pubs, will be loss-making, with 40% operating on reduced hours until they can reopen inside in May and fully reopen from 21 June."

He warned that the early stages of reopening would be significantly challenging for operators for many months to come on their long road to recovery.

"In order for our pubs to survive, they need to be free of restrictions at the earliest opportunity," he said.