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Matt Hancock dodges questions on ‘substantial meal’ loophole as savvy landlords reveal Tier 2 plans

Savvy landlords have revealed their plans to continue pulling pints in Tier 2 areas – despite facing tight restrictions – as thousands of eager Britons today flocked back to watering holes for the first time in a month.

The shrewd landlords of so-called ‘wet pubs’ – which do not normally serve food – are teaming up with takeaways in a bid to keep serving drinks.

Landlords in Tier 2 areas can only sell alcoholic beverages with a ‘substantial meal’ under new rules which come into force in England today.

But the rules have left kitchen-less pubs facing a dilemma. And some are now preparing to serve takeaway food in a bid to keep the pints flowing.

One pub in Worcester is joining forces with a local fish and chip shop to provide food to drinkers.

Meanwhile a bar in central London is planning to allow customers order McDonald’s as a way of getting around the rules.  

Landlords in Tier 2 areas can only sell alcoholic beverages with a ‘substantial meal’ under new rules which come into force in England today – so one Worcester pub is teaming up with a takeaway

Sarah Mowatt, 26, was nursing a San Miguel after heading straight to the pub after hearing they had reopened

Sarah Mowatt, 26, was nursing a San Miguel after heading straight to the pub after hearing they had reopened

Damian Brady, 66, was enjoying a drink at the Asparagus with his fellow regulars Steve Baker, 65, and their friend Sidney

Damian Brady, 66, was enjoying a drink at the Asparagus with his fellow regulars Steve Baker, 65, and their friend Sidney

Eager pub-goers were seen returning to watering-holes this morning for a pint in the pub (pictured: Two people enjoy a drink at the Five Degree West in Falmouth, Cornwall

Eager pub-goers were seen returning to watering-holes this morning for a pint in the pub (pictured: Two people enjoy a drink at the Five Degree West in Falmouth, Cornwall

 

What can you do in a pub in each tier? 

  • Tier 1 – Pubs are open for alcohol or food with people from different households allowed to sit together.
  • Tier 2 – Pubs can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’. People from different households can only sit together outside, and must follow the ‘rule of six’. Those sitting inside the pub at the same table must be from the same household.
  • Tier 3 – Pubs are closed for everything but takeaway.

 

It comes as eager pub-goers were seen returning to watering-holes this morning for a full-English breakfast and a pint, after a month of being locked out during the national shutdown.

One man even filmed himself knocking back a pint of Guinness today as he sat eating a breakfast in a Wetherspoon’s pub.  

Meanwhile Matt Hancock today dodged questions over a ‘substantial meal’ loophole that could see pubs team up with takeaways in order to keep pulling pints.

In the latest round of interviews involving ministers facing a grilling over food and pubs, the Health Secretary blanked questions on whether watering holes could use takeaway services as way to continue serving alcoholic drinks.

He instead said it was ‘very clearly the principles in law at what is and isn’t expected’ and warned those who broke the law could face court action.

But some pub owners are hoping to find a way to work within in the new regulations. 

In Worcester, one pub is teaming up with a nearby fish and chip shop in order to stay open under Tier 2 rules.

Mark and Debie Daniels, of The Brewers Arms, which has no kitchen, has partnered with Nick Zipiti of St John’s Fish Bar.

The Brewers Arms (pictured) is teaming up with a nearby fish and chip shop in order to stay open under Tier 2 rules

The Brewers Arms (pictured) is teaming up with a nearby fish and chip shop in order to stay open under Tier 2 rules

It means The Brewers Arms can keep pulling pints - which they would be otherwise unable to do without serving a substantial meal alongside

It means The Brewers Arms can keep pulling pints – which they would be otherwise unable to do without serving a substantial meal alongside

Mark and Debie Daniels, of The Brewers Arms (pictured), which has no kitchen, has partnered with Nick Zipiti of St John's Fish Bar, according to Worcester News

They have partnered with Nick Zipiti of St John's Fish Bar, according to Worcester News

Mark and Debie Daniels, of The Brewers Arms (pictured left), which has no kitchen, has partnered with Nick Zipiti (pictured right) of St John’s Fish Bar, according to Worcester News

The pub will operate around the chip shop's usual hours and customers will be asked to order food at the bar before being able to buy a drink

The pub will operate around the chip shop’s usual hours and customers will be asked to order food at the bar before being able to buy a drink

The pub is teaming up with nearby St John's Fish Bar in Worcester to allow them to provide a 'substantial meal' in order to sell their pints

The pub is teaming up with nearby St John’s Fish Bar in Worcester to allow them to provide a ‘substantial meal’ in order to sell their pints

It means The Brewers Arms can keep pulling pints – which they would be otherwise unable to do without serving a substantial meal alongside.

The pub will operate around the chip shop’s usual hours and customers will be asked to order food at the bar before being able to buy a drink.

Mr Daniels told Worcester News: ‘This partnership has allowed us to open again as we do not have a kitchen on site.

‘We went to the council and they were impressed with the idea and allowed us to operate in this way for now. I am really pleased.’ 

Chris Hall, 68, from Worcester, a retired contract cleaner, said: ‘It’s brilliant, I use this pub seven days a week.

Chris Hall, 68, from Worcester, a retired contract cleaner, said: “It’s brilliant, I use this pub seven days a week.

Chris Hall, 68, from Worcester, a retired contract cleaner, said: ‘It’s brilliant, I use this pub seven days a week. 

‘I think it’s a clever idea using the chippy and I didn’t think they would allow it, but obviously they have.

‘It’s great for the pub to be open again and I hope it lasts.

‘Hopefully, we may come down to Tier 1 soon and it means they can reopen properly.’

Steve Owen, 67, from Worcester, a retired lorry driver, said: ‘I’m usually down here four or five times a week.

‘It’s such a brilliant idea – it’s helping two businesses out at the same time.

‘It will be good to be back to normal eventually and I think it will drop down to Tier 1 soon.’

Dave Lampitt, 67, from Worcester, a retired maintenance factory worker, said: ‘It’s ideal as I do like the chippy shop as well.

‘We have to have something to eat but we’re still in a pub.

‘Whether you’re having a drink or something to eat, we’re still here and that’s the main thing as other areas haven’t been so lucky.’

It comes as other pubs look at ways around the Tier 2 rules – including serving up scotch eggs with their drinks.

A barmaid at the Windmill Pub, Mayfair, London was today pictured serving beers with a scotch egg and sausage roll today. 

Another pub landlord has jokingly renamed an ale ‘Substantial Meal’ in a cheeky bid to get around new Covid-19 restrictions.

It comes as other pubs look at ways around the Tier 2 rules - including serving up scotch eggs with their drinks

It comes as other pubs look at ways around the Tier 2 rules – including serving up scotch eggs with their drinks

A barmaid at the Windmill Pub, Mayfair, London was pictured serving beers with a scotch egg and sausage roll today

A barmaid at the Windmill Pub, Mayfair, London was pictured serving beers with a scotch egg and sausage roll today

Brett Mendoza, 40, who owns the Caxton Arms in Brighton, came up with the idea as a joke while discussing what constitutes a substantial meal with another landlord

Brett Mendoza (right), 40, who owns the Caxton Arms in Brighton, came up with the idea (left) as a joke while discussing what constitutes a substantial meal with another landlord

Brett Mendoza, 40, who owns the Caxton Arms in Brighton, East Sussex, came up with the idea while discussing what constitutes a substantial meal with another landlord after the latest measures were announced last week. 

An image of the spoof beer pump clip, which is from the ‘made up brewery’ and described as ‘hearty, filling and flavoursome’, was posted to social media last Wednesday, captioned: ‘Bring on Tier 2’.

The post has garnered over 1,600 likes and more than 200 shares, with one social media user commenting: ‘Along with a bag of crisps and a pickled egg, substantial enough meal for anyone.’

Another simply tweeted: ‘Brilliant’, while a third added: ‘I love that’.

Meanwhile, one pub looking to enlist the help of takeaway services is The G-A-Y bar in London’s Soho.

The bar does not normally serve food. But it is preparing to let customers have McDonald’s delivered in a bid to get round the rules. 

Owner Jeremy Joseph told the Sun: ‘McDonald’s was chosen because of its cheap menu which means everyone can socialise no matter their budget.’ 

It comes as Matt Hancock today dodged the question of whether pubs and takeaways could team up in Tier 2 areas in order for watering holes to continue serving alcohol.

Speaking to Sky News today, Mr Hancock was asked repeatedly whether a ‘wet pub’ could have a takeaway delivered in order to serve alcoholic drinks to customers in Tier 2.

One pub looking to enlist the help of takeaway services is The G-A-Y bar in London's Soho. The bar does not normally serve food

One pub looking to enlist the help of takeaway services is The G-A-Y bar in London’s Soho. The bar does not normally serve food

But the Soho bar is preparing to let customers have McDonald's delivered in a bid to get round the rules

But the Soho bar is preparing to let customers have McDonald’s delivered in a bid to get round the rules

In the latest round of interviews in which cabinet ministers faced a grilling over food in pubs, the Health Secretary did not say whether watering holes could use takeaway services as way to continue pourings pints

In the latest round of interviews in which cabinet ministers faced a grilling over food in pubs, the Health Secretary did not say whether watering holes could use takeaway services as way to continue pourings pints

Diners will be able to eat al fresco outside central London restaurants for next six months 

Diners will be able to eat in al fresco outside central London restaurants for the next six months, it was revealed today.

Pubs and restaurants in the capital will be allowed to reopen tomorrow under Tier 2 coronavirus rules, along with much of the rest of the country.

Diners will be allowed to eat together as long as there are a maximum of six people sat with each other and everyone in the group is from the same support bubble or household if sat inside.

And Westminster Council has announced the new rules allowing groups to eat al fresco in groups of up to six in mixed households from tomorrow will be continued for a further six months.

Council leader Rachael Robathan, said the scheme, which allows venues to provide ‘pop up’ dining areas in streets, would be an important way of supporting the hospitality industry.

She said: ‘We have 3,700 restaurants, pubs and bars in central London and they help to support around 80,000 jobs.

‘Hospitality is a big employer for us and while the sector faces another tough few months under tier two restrictions, at least we can support those venues who can offer outside space.’

At the same time, Westminster City Council has launched a ‘shop safe’ campaign, which emphasises measures the authority has taken to make the streets as safe as possible.

These include widening pavements, installing 7 miles (11km) of cycle lanes, social distance signage and hand sanitiser stations across the City.

A social media campaign being launched by Westminster City Council on Wednesday will underline the safety messages.

He said: ‘We’ve set out very clearly the principles in law at what is and isn’t expected. If you break that law – it’s set out clearly.’

He added: ‘It is for the courts to interpret on each individual case. Absolutely we will enforce against these laws.’

He continued: ‘The courts interpret the law that has been set by parliament for this country.

‘If people break that law, then it’s for the courts, based on the individual circumstances, to determine that.

‘I don’t think it’s acceptable to try to push the boundaries of these rules and it’s a matter for the courts to interpret the law.’

Meanwhile the debate today rages on around scotch-egg gate – the row over whether a scotch egg can be a substantial meal or not. 

Mr Hancock appeared to put to bed confusion over the egg and meat treat after ministers blurred lines by repeatedly changing course yesterday.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove gave three different lines in three different interviews yesterday morning when quizzed about scotch eggs, which have become a unusual but key talking-point in the government’s new Covid-19 tier system. 

On Scotch eggs, Mr Hancock told Sky News: ‘A substantial meal is a well-established concept in hospitality.

‘Of course, a Scotch egg that is served as a substantial meal – that is a substantial meal.

‘What we need to do is not try to push the boundaries, we all need to take responsibility for our own actions.’

He added: ‘The rules are the two different types of hospitality – those that obviously serve meals and those that don’t.

‘So, a starter can be a substantial meal, you can have a Scotch egg as a starter.’

He said he wanted to move away from ‘picking at the boundaries’.

It comes as yesterday a row deepened over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a ‘substantial meal’ under rules only allowing alcohol to be served with food from today.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC two scotch eggs would be ‘a starter’, 24 hours after Environment Secretary George Eustice said one is a substantial meal.

Mr Gove reiterated his stance on LBC in a second interview on Good Morning Britain yesterday – before backtracking and then telling ITV News: ‘A scotch egg is a substantial meal.’

A row has broken out over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a ‘substantial meal’

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex , is offering £1.99 plates on a 'Boris Menu' such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex , is offering £1.99 plates on a ‘Boris Menu’ such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips

London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier

London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier

Fury at government’s ‘token’ one-off £1,000 payment for ‘wet’ boozers

Pub landlords have warned that the tier system will force traditional old fashioned pubs out of business after the government’s proposed support package was met with derision.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that all ‘wet’ pubs that do not serve food would be given a one-off grant of £1,000.

He said the payout was to recognise ‘how hard they have been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month’.

But one pub landlord accused the Prime Minister of using the ‘token gesture’ as a means to appease Tory rebels criticising the tier system.

The chair of the Campaign for Pubs, Paul Crossman, who runs The Swan, The Slip Inn and Volunteer Arms pubs in York, said the meagre £1,000 grant has ‘offended’ pub owners.

He also warned it spells the end for many old fashioned pubs that do not serve food.

‘A lot of publicans are saying they are really offended by this amount,’ he said.

‘It might sound a lot to someone in the street but the revenues that pubs have to take to stay afloat, £1000 is nothing. It won’t save any pub, put it that way. 

‘The support package on offer still falls well short of covering basic costs for the vast majority of pubs, let alone compensating them for any of the trade that is being denied them over the vital festive period.

Mr Crossman added: ‘This one-off payment is a token gesture to appease his rebel MPs. This statement today is pure politicking from Boris Johnson.

‘It is not enough to make a tangible difference.

‘It just reinforces the impression that the government simply have no idea what this is costing pubs in lost trade.

‘The support package this time round is not enough to even cover the costs for most pubs. Let alone compensate them for any lost trade.

‘I have three wet led community pubs here in York. We don’t do any food. We’ll be staying closed and we fall into the rates bracket where we’re entitles to £2000 every 28 days, which is a joke, because our rent is £1000 per week.

‘It’s property costs that are scaring people. The arrears are mounting all the time.

‘Some people have tens of thousands of pounds in debt now. People are not going to be clapping for £1000. It’s a drop in the ocean and pretty meaningless actually.’

The confusion came after the Government said people going into Tier 2 from today will have to have a ‘substantial meal’ to allow them to buy a pint.

The law says a substantial meal is ‘might be expected to be served as breakfast, the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at such a meal’.

Some pubs have now brought out new menus, with one offering a ‘Boris Menu’ of £1.99 meals – while Wetherspoon has launched a new breakfast muffin range. 

Landlords accused the Government of providing ‘no clarity’ on the substantial meal rule.

One Essex pub has launched a new £1.99 simplified food menu so that customers can enjoy alcoholic drinks, but do not have to spend lots of money or have a large meal.

Named ‘The Boris Menu’, The Kings Head in Gosfield is offering plates such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips.

Pub owner Matthew Arnold, 38, told Essex Live: ‘Every time a new regulation is implemented it incurs a lot of time and cost for pubs to abide.

‘It’s the frustration that prompted the menu idea initially at the same time as catering for customers that don’t necessarily want a large and costly meal each time they want to visit us.’

Meanwhile the Wetherspoon pub chain has launched a new breakfast menu ahead of tomorrow’s reopening, include a muffin range and reducing the price of coffee and tea to 99p.

Customers can choose from four new breakfast muffins – egg and bacon; egg and sausage; breakfast (with bacon and sausage); and egg and cheese. 

Other pubs have resorted to writing long lists of rules on their website to help keep customers safe.

Tailors, in Cambray Place, Cheltenham, has put a list of 17 things customers should know before they enter the watering hole.

The list includes a recommendation to book a table in advance, rules about seating and a warning that customers who are sitting outside will not be given refunds for unfinished meals and drinks if the weather turns bad. 

Other pubs in Tier 2 have said they will not be opening at all, despite being allowed to.  

The Royal Standard near Weymouth will stay closed according to a post on its Facebook page.

It said: ‘Well after the announcement, we have taken the heart breaking decision to unfortunately remain closed until the next review on Friday 16th December.

‘We had planned to restart our food but the limitations of the guidelines have forced us to make this decision. On behalf of the whole team here we thank you for your continued support and hope to see you all again very soon.

‘Stay safe gang and we’ll be back bigger and better.’

Another pub, also named the Royal Standard, this time in Yeovil, is also remaining closed.

In a post on its Facebook page, it said: ‘Following on from the announcements of the new Tiers being brought into place.

‘It is with a heavy heart that we will not be reopening on the 3rd December as planned.

‘As soon as we go back into Tier one we will be opening our doors to all of our lovely customers once again!’

Meanwhile punters have been enjoying the return of pubs. Intensive care nurses Juan Garcia, 27, and Francisco Sanchez, 28, had come straight to the pub from a nightshift at a nearby hospital.

The pair, originally from Spain, were tucking into breakfast muffins alongside a pint of orange juice.

‘We’ve just finished working a night-shift so we came straight here for breakfast, which feels nice,’ said Mr Garcia.

Mr Sanchez added: ‘It’s a bit of a tradition actually. It’s good to be back

‘But I’m not getting a beer because if I did I think I’d pass out after all that time working.’

Intensive care nurses Juan Garcia, 27, and Francisco Sanchez, 28, had come straight to the pub from a nightshift at a nearby hospital

Intensive care nurses Juan Garcia, 27, and Francisco Sanchez, 28, had come straight to the pub from a nightshift at a nearby hospital

General manager Jon Newton serves a beer to the first customer of the day at Five degree West in Falmouth, Cornwall

General manager Jon Newton serves a beer to the first customer of the day at Five degree West in Falmouth, Cornwall

Pub-goers enjoy a breakfast at a Wetherspoon pub in London today after the new Tier 2 rules were introduced

Pub-goers enjoy a breakfast at a Wetherspoon pub in London today after the new Tier 2 rules were introduced

Pub-goers enjoy a breakfast at the Cheltenham-based pub the Bank House in Gloucestershire

Pub-goers enjoy a breakfast at the Cheltenham-based pub the Bank House in Gloucestershire

Mr Garcia said he did not understand the point of forcing people to have a meal with their drink.

‘I don’t know what the point of that is. If you want more drinks you can just go from pub to pub,’ he said.

‘It’s not going to work – like many of the things that they’ve been doing.’

Damian Brady, 66, was enjoying a drink at the Asparagus with his fellow regulars Steve Baker, 65, and their friend Sidney.

Mr Brady ordered a Kronenbourg with his Full English breakfast, but was frustrated with the Government’s new rules.

Landlords – get in touch with MailOnline:

What is YOUR pub serving as a substantial meal?

Or are you using a takeaway service to bring in food?

Contact me: [email protected] 

He told MailOnline: ‘This breakfast will be the slowest breakfast in history, I’ll still be here at 4pm. One bean, two beans…

‘The Government has got no idea – the rules are absolutely childish. There’s no set pattern whatsoever.’

Mr Brady tried to order a second pint when the waitress delivered his breakfast but was told by his friends this was against the rules.

‘I tried it and I failed,’ he joked. ‘The rules remind me of a jigsaw – it’s nearly that complicated.

‘At the same time it’s great to come to come to the pub and speak to people.

‘Although I was happy at home – four tins of Stella, £5.50, and four cans of Guinness, £5 – I was in my element.’

At the Oyster Rooms in Fulham Broadway, just a stone’s throw away from Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium in south-west London, regulars were sipping on their first draught after a month away.

Sarah Mowatt, 26, was nursing a San Miguel after heading straight to the pub after hearing they had reopened.

‘Halleluiah, it’s a miracle,’ she told MailOnline.

‘It’s been a long month – this lockdown has felt much longer I think. It seems like they just took away everything fun while still letting you do other things.

‘This morning when I woke up and realised the pubs were open I thought, why not, I’ll just go for one, maybe two. I’m very happy and feel a lot better today than I have done for the last month.’

Ms Mowatt, who works in events, was perusing the menu for something to eat.

She was relaxed about the rules, adding: ‘At first I was thinking I would have to order six roast dinners to have a drink.

‘But now I know you can order something like a scotch egg – so it’s fine by mean, they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do.’

Sean Thomas, a regular in his 50s, was delighted to be back with his friends at the Oyster Rooms

Sean Thomas, a regular in his 50s, was delighted to be back with his friends at the Oyster Rooms

Sean Thomas, a regular in his 50s, was delighted to be back with his friends at the Oyster Rooms.

‘The pub is like a cathedral, we all know each other, so when one of the congregation goes missing you notice it. It keeps everybody safe.

‘There’s usually seven or eight of us here who are all mates.’

His friend, a former RAF serviceman who asked not to be named, was scathing about the requirement to order food.

‘I’ve just had breakfast now I’ve got to order something to eat. It’s not right, the Government hasn’t got a clue. It’s a hassle.’

He said he was planning to have three pints before heading home.

Robert Hopkinson 58, who had ordered a John Smiths, said he had reduced his drinking over lockdown.

‘Over the whole lockdown I had about eight cans of lager,’ he said. ‘I’m happy to be back because you can chat with your mates.’

Asked about the rules, he said: ‘It’s not a major problem, but I normally come in and have two or three pints before going away. But now you’ve got to wait for a meal to be cooked. I’m going to have a large breakfast.’

‘Off for a cooked breakfast and a pint!’: Tier Two drinkers rejoice as lockdown ends while those in Tier Three are left pining for the pub – as landlords get set for busy day serving ‘substantial meals’

England’s second national lockdown came to an end overnight, sparking a wave of excitement across social media as people prepare to return to the pubs – and landlords get set for a busy day serving ‘substantial meals’.

Social media users this morning rejoiced the ending of the month-long shutdown, which ended overnight.

The lockdown rules will be replaced by a new tiered system from today. The rules mean pubs in Tier 2 areas, including London and large parts of the south-east, can reopen.

Hours after the lockdown was lifted, social media users in Tier 2 were quick to show their readiness to return to the pubs.

But those in Tier 3, where pubs and restuarants can only open for takeaway, were left pining for a pint.

One Twitter user, Neil Hughes, said: ‘I’m off for a cooked breakfast and a pint.’

Nay Evans, said: ‘End of lockdown, we made it. See use (sic) in the pub for 5 Guinness and a Cesar salad.’

Another said: ‘Lockdown is over, you can catch me at the pub with my friends tonight, unless you are in Tier 2 or 3.’ 

Another user of Twitter said: ‘Me getting ready to go to the pub tomorrow.’

Jo Mac, a Twitter user, said: ‘And we are out of lockdown! Wohoooo!!! Who wants to come to the pub with me for a pint and a substantial meal?’ 

Another said: ‘Woohoo! Lockdown has ended. We are free to have a beer down the pub.

‘With a scotch egg of course. Do we have to sit at a table and use a knife and fork to eat it, or can we stand at the bar?’

Another said: ‘Lockdown is over, you can catch me at the pub with my friends tonight, unless you are in Tier 2 or 3.’ 

But while people in Tier 2 were left excited for a trip to the pub, those in Tier 3 were left pining for a pint.

One said: ‘Back in Tier 3, well done everyone! – Now let’s get Tier 2 so I can go to the pub!’

Another said: ‘Oh great, after four weeks I can go to non-essential shops again. But not to the pub or anything enjoyable.

‘Tier 1 before lockdown, Tier 3 today, utter madness.’  

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Pub landlords celebrate last-minute reprieve as major breweries slash rents during winter lockdown


Dozens of pub landlords are celebrating a last-minute reprieve today as major breweries including Greene King and Adnams have slashed rents during the winter lockdown.

Greene King, the UK’s largest pub retailer, and Stonegate Pub Company both confirmed charges for tenants will be reduced to 10 per cent.

Meanwhile Adnams, which owns seventy pubs across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, said today it will not charge its tenants any rent through the second lockdown, with immediate effect, after it emerged pubs will not be able to serve takeaway alcohol.

Admiral Taverns and Marston’s were also included in the breweries which announced they would be providing rent discounts until December 2.

It comes as the British Beer and Pub Association (BPPA) warns that up to 12,000 pubs in the country are at risk of permanent closure. 

Dozens of pub landlords are celebrating a last-minute reprieve today as major breweries have slashed rents during the winter lockdown (pictured: a closed pub in London’s West End today)

It comes amid fears that hundreds of bars may never reopen, as pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops close after lockdown came into effect at midnight on Thursday

It comes amid fears that hundreds of bars may never reopen, as pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops close after lockdown came into effect at midnight on Thursday

PPA’s Chief Executive, Emma McClarkin, said: ‘As our sector enters this second lockdown, we are fearful for the future. 

‘Sector member research estimates as many as 12,000 pubs are at risk from permanent closure unless the Government provides a longer term support package for the sector. 

‘Countless breweries and suppliers to pubs are also at very real risk of closing for good due to this second lockdown and its longer impact.’

Meanwhile Nick Attfield, Adnams’ director of properties, said: ‘We’ll do what we can to help our tenants through the lockdown.’

But he added: ‘Any financial help we get from the government is very welcome.’

Adnams made a similar decision in the first lockdown in March but Mr Attfield said it had been easier this time around. 

‘It’s more straightforward because we’ve done it before. But from an emotional and personal perspective of course, it’s still complicated.

‘At least this time we understand the furlough scheme. Back in the spring, we thought we were telling people they were losing their jobs.’

He said the government’s decision to ban pubs selling takeaway alcohol was ‘a big frustration’.

‘During the first lockdown, takeaways provided a viable income stream for many of our pubs. And if I’m being honest, I think it provided sanity for our publicans.

‘We’re still waiting for clarification on a lot of points but from previous experience, we know it can sometimes come two or three days later.’ 

In a letter sent to tenants in England on the night of the announcement, Greene King Pub Partners managing director Wayne Shurvinton confirmed the discount will apply regardless of whether or not English-tied pubs choose to offer a takeaway service. 

Greene King, the UK’s largest pub retailer, and Stonegate Pub Company both confirmed charges for tenants will be reduced to 10 per cent during the second lockdown (file photo)

Marston's (brewery at Burton-on-Trent, above) and Admiral Taverns were also included in the breweries which announced they would be providing rent discounts until December 2

Marston’s (brewery at Burton-on-Trent, above) and Admiral Taverns were also included in the breweries which announced they would be providing rent discounts until December 2

The letter said: ‘All of us hoped that this day would not come and there are no words that can adequately describe how it feels right now to be back in this position again.

‘However, first and foremost I wanted to update you on Greene King Pub Partners’ support for you during this initial closure period. We remain committed to providing industry leading support and standing shoulder to shoulder with our tied partners to support you as much as we can. 

‘From the date that the lockdown begins on 5 November all tied partners will receive a rent credit of 90 per cent up to and including 2 December 2020.’

Stonegate Pub Company said it has provided financial support in an overall package, worth over £42.5million.

Nick Light, Managing Director of Ei Publican Partnerships, the brewery’s leased and tenanted business, said: ‘We continue to stand by our publicans, and we are taking the responsibility of supporting our businesses very seriously as the trading landscape continues to change. 

‘Once again, the hospitality industry is being told to bear the financial brunt of further regulations in the Government’s response to COVID-19.’

He added: ‘The Government’s decision at the weekend to also not allow alcohol to be part of any takeaways from pubs yet permit the purchasing of alcohol from supermarkets and delivery services is a double standard. 

‘The British Beer and Pub Association has estimated that over 70million pints of beer were poured down the drain in March, given the short notice this time, there will be huge amounts of further wastage, if the Government does not change this ruling.’ 

Adnams, which owns seventy pubs across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, said today it will not charge its tenants any rent through the second lockdown in England

Adnams, which owns seventy pubs across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, said today it will not charge its tenants any rent through the second lockdown in England

The reduction in rent charges will take place with immediate effect, after it emerged pubs will not be able to serve takeaway alcohol throughout the second lockdown

 The reduction in rent charges will take place with immediate effect, after it emerged pubs will not be able to serve takeaway alcohol throughout the second lockdown

James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers, said the decision to ban takeaway alcohol sales was ‘baffling considering supermarkets will presumably still be allowed to sell packaged beer, while small breweries and pubs will not’.

He added: ‘It is nonsensical to impose these new restrictions when pubs have time and time again proved that they are Covid-secure, both during lockdown when takeaway was their only option and since pubs re-opened on July 4.’

Adam Button, head of sales at Ipswich-based brewery Calvors, said as much as 90 per cent of its beer will be going into cans rather than kegs – in part due to the ban on takeaway sales.

‘Some of what we’re brewing is going to go into kegs ready for when pubs reopen in December. Most of the rest of it will continue to go into cans.’

He said the brewery has already received orders from supermarkets and stores that have experienced ‘an uptick in demand’ and has more meetings with customers lined up.



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Georgia Headline USA

Large corporate landlords have filed eviction actions against 10,000 tenants since September


Some of the country’s largest residential landlords have moved to oust thousands of tenants from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic despite federal eviction protections, according to a new report.

Big corporate landlords have filed nearly 10,000 eviction actions in courts across five states, even though a nationwide eviction moratorium, issued by the CDC in September, bars them from evicting tenants impacted by COVID-19 for non-payment of rent.

But while the CDC says such tenants can’t be physically removed from their homes before the end of the year, landlords are permitted to begin eviction proceedings now and aren’t required to tell tenants about the protections available to them.

Thousands of those actions have since been filed in 23 counties in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas since early September, according to NBC.

Big corporate landlords have filed nearly 10,000 eviction actions in courts across five states, even though a nationwide eviction moratorium, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on September 4, bars them from evicting tenants who affirm they’ve been impacted by COVID-19

Among the large landlords filing numerous evictions include prosperous US public companies like Invitation Homes, which owns and leases 80,000 single-family homes nationwide.

Court records show the company has filed 122 eviction notices across the five states since September, despite the fact the company is thriving, with earnings rising 54 percent in the first six months of 2020, and its stock price jumping 80 percent since the market tanked in March.

Another company filing the eviction actions is Progress Residential, which owns and leases 40,000 homes nationwide.

Progress tenant, Cristina Velez, of Boco Raton, Florida, told NBC how the company issued her an ultimatum on September 8 to pay the rent or deliver the premises. 

Just over two weeks later, Progress filed eviction proceedings against Velez, demanding $4,210.14 in rent and legal fees, delivering the papers to her door, she said.

‘I told them I was affected by Covid, but it didn’t matter to them,’ Velez said. ‘They are not very patient.’

Velez had recently lost her job running the staffing team on a Covid-19 treatment trial. 

The mother-of-one claimed not once did a Progress representative tell her about the CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium.

‘I said, “There’s got to be something for people affected by Covid and being furloughed,”’ the 46-year-old said she told Progress. ‘There’s nothing we can do,’ the company representative replied, she said.

Velez said she ended up selling her car to settle the dispute and stave off eviction.

But while the CDC says such tenants can’t be physically removed from their homes before the end of the year, they permit landlords to begin eviction proceedings now and don’t require them to tell tenants about the protections available to them

But while the CDC says such tenants can’t be physically removed from their homes before the end of the year, they permit landlords to begin eviction proceedings now and don’t require them to tell tenants about the protections available to them

Her eviction action is one of 97 filed by Progress Residential against their tenants since the CDC announced its ban on evictions.

Progress, a large and well-funded landlord, is owned by Pretium Partners, a $3 billion hedge fund that invests in distressed properties.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Progress Residential said: ‘Progress Residential continually engages with tenants on matters related to their leases. While each matter is unique, we are committed to working with tenants, as appropriate, to try and provide assistance during these extraordinary times.

Progress tenant, Cristina Velez, of Boco Raton, Florida, told NBC how the company issued her an ultimatum on September 8 – pay the rent or deliver the premises. Just over two weeks later, Progress filed eviction proceedings against Velez, demanding $4,210.14 in rent and legal fees, delivering the papers to her door

Progress tenant, Cristina Velez, of Boco Raton, Florida, told NBC how the company issued her an ultimatum on September 8 – pay the rent or deliver the premises. Just over two weeks later, Progress filed eviction proceedings against Velez, demanding $4,210.14 in rent and legal fees, delivering the papers to her door

‘Progress Residential complies with applicable law, including the CDC Moratorium, in enforcing rental evictions. Importantly, as part of the CDC Moratorium, tenants are required to provide a declaration that makes clear they are unable to pay rent due to the impact of Covid-19.’

The company offered no comment on its interactions with Velez.

Other big landlords that are owned by private equity firms are also filing evictions, a database compiled by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project – a nonprofit that examines the impact of private equity on communities – shows.

The Carlyle group, for instance, has filed 42 actions. But the top eviction filer, according to documents obtained by NBC is Ventron Management LLC, a Canadian real estate firm that has brought 281 proceedings.

‘The decisions of large companies to advance evictions despite the moratorium quite literally threatens the health of residents and the broader public,’ Jim Baker, executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, told NBC.

In response to the non-profit, Kristi DesJarlais, senior vice president at Invitation Homes, cast doubt on the touted eviction figures, insisting ‘We question the veracity of the list’.

In addition, she insisted eviction isn’t the course of actions they wanted to take, said the company are following the CDC’s rules, and insists they’re working with tenants who are struggling to make rent as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

‘We have been doing what the CDC order directs since early in the pandemic,’ she said in a statement, ‘working with our residents facing Covid-related financial hardships and offering a variety of payment options so they can stay in their homes.’

Thousands of eviction actions have since been filed in 23 counties in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas since early September, according to NBC

Thousands of eviction actions have since been filed in 23 counties in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas since early September, according to NBC

Among the large landlords filing numerous evictions include prosperous US public companies like Invitation Homes, which owns and leases 80,000 single-family homes nationwide

Among the large landlords filing numerous evictions include prosperous US public companies like Invitation Homes, which owns and leases 80,000 single-family homes nationwide

When it announced the eviction ban, the CDC said it was crucial to helping stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Many tenants who are out of work because of COVID-19 shutdowns are struggling to pay their rent; the CDC estimated that up to 40 million people could lose their homes without eviction protections in place.

The CDC’s ban came in the wake of the expiration of a narrower eviction moratorium in the CARES Act in late August. Under the CDC ban, tenants are responsible for paying the full amount of rent owed to the landlord.

The recent rise in eviction filings could be related to a new CDC notice issued on October 9, which further clarified the terms of its ban.

The notice specified that landlords can begin eviction proceedings now, even though they aren’t supposed to remove tenants until the year’s end, and are not required to notify tenants about the ban or its terms.

Landlords are also free to challenge tenants’ sworn declarations they suffered harm as a result of Covid-19 – with the agency making it clear that there is no administrative appeal process for tenants faced with such challenges.

Since the CDC issued the clarification, new eviction filings have increased dramatically. For example, during the week of October 12, almost 2,000 proceedings were recorded in the five states – almost twice the number from the previous week, according to NBC.

Tenants say the CDC has now narrowed what should have been a broad ban on evictions and handed the upper hand to landlords.

‘[It] puts more power back in the hands of landlords at the expense of low-income renters,’ Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told NBC. ‘It creates new burdens for renters and creates new holes in protections for renters.’

Even more troublingly, should the CDC moratorium be allowed to expire on December 31 without a replacement, a ripple of evictions is likely, which could lead to a tsunami of homelessness, experts warn.

‘When you hit Jan. 1, people will owe tens of thousands in back rent,’ Chris Groninger, chief strategy officer for the Arizona Bar Foundation, warned. ‘We are creating poverty as we speak.’



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Headlines UK London

Stamp duty holiday sees landlords treble appetite for extra buy-to-lets


Stamp duty holiday prompts the number of landlords wanting to buy more buy-to-let properties to treble

  • One in 10 property investors said they were looking to expand their portfolios
  • Landlords can make use of the stamp duty holiday but still pay a 3% surcharge

The number of landlords looking to buy another buy-to-let property has increased more than three-fold as they try to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

One in 10 property investors said they are looking to expand their portfolios, compared to only 3 per cent before the coronavirus pandemic, according to the findings by landlords insurance provider Simply Business.

It suggests that landlords are seeking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday that is available until the end of March next year, as while they must still pay a 3 per cent surcharge they can benefit from the underlying tax cut.

Rental properties: This four-bed detached house in Lymington, Hampshire, is available to rent for £1,400 a month

Landlords cannot get zero stamp duty bills as they are still required to pay the buy-to-let and second home surcharge of 3 per cent, but as with owner occupiers they can still save a substantial sum from the removal of the standard rate of tax below £500,000.

Following the stamp duty holiday, Simply Business surveyed 1,385 landlords. It found that 10 per cent said they plan on buying more rental properties, while only 5 per cent said they had any intention of selling existing properties.

The rise in confidence among landlords could lead to a spike in property investments in rural and coastal areas, according to Simply Business.

It said that landlords may shift their attention to these areas to meet demand from tenants seeking more indoor and outdoor space amid the global pandemic.

Pictured: Kingswear in Devon. Are landlords using coastal properties to meet tenant demand?

Pictured: Kingswear in Devon. Are landlords using coastal properties to meet tenant demand?

This three-bed semi-detached house in Paignton, Devon, is available to rent for £875 a month

This three-bed semi-detached house in Paignton, Devon, is available to rent for £875 a month

Before the pandemic, Simply Business had already revealed in separate research that 29 per cent of landlords believed city properties no longer represented a worthwhile investment.

Rental properties cities typically produce lower yields, which are calculated using the price of a property.

House prices in cities tend to be higher, which in turn lowers the yield or rental return that investors can achieve. However there are other reasons for investors to invest in cities, such as potentially high capital growth. 

What rentals are available in the city? This three-bed flat in north London's Haringey, is for rent for £2,149 a month

What rentals are available in the city? This three-bed flat in north London’s Haringey, is for rent for £2,149 a month

Several other pieces of research have recently highlighted the trend for people looking to move to the country, having been stuck in their homes during lockdown.

It includes data from estate agent Savills that revealed village locations have become so desirable that 40 per cent of house hunters say this is the type of area they would now like to live in – shifting focus away from traditional favourite aspects, such as walking distance to the station.

And property website Rightmove revealed that property searches have doubled for homes in small towns and villages with less than 11,000 residents.

For rent: This four-bed terraced house in Pewsey, Wiltshire, is available for1,100 pcm

For rent: This four-bed terraced house in Pewsey, Wiltshire, is available for £1,100 a month

Alan Thomas, of Simply Business, said: ‘The coronavirus outbreak and consequent lockdowns have been transformational in renters’ attitudes towards property, and therefore where landlords are looking to make their next investment.

‘The pandemic has resulted in people spending more time at home – both for work and leisure, while many of the benefits of city living have been impacted. It’s no surprise to see that renters are valuing larger properties with outdoor space. 

‘There appears to be a shift in terms of what is considered a desirable property by tenants, and residential landlords – crucial to both the economy and the local communities where they provide housing – along with the market in general, are reacting to this. 

‘What is clear though, is that the buy-to-let market is going through somewhat of a transition, driven by a move away from the previous demand for city centre properties.’





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Glasgow Headlines UK Manchester

Coronavirus Scotland: Landlords want alcohol BANNED in supermarkets


Furious Scottish landlords are today calling on Nicola Sturgeon to ban alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licences as the nation’s hospitality chiefs launch legal action against Covid-19 restrictions imposed on the trade by Holyrood.

Don Lawson, owner of the Inverness bar Johnny Foxes, proposed the drastic measure to preserve the ‘livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people’ most at risk from the Scottish First Minister’s draconian shutdowns. 

In an impassioned letter to Miss Sturgeon, who yesterday announced that pub and restaurant closures across the central belt will be extended by a week to November 2, he warned that the industry was facing ‘an unprecedented crisis’.

Mr Lawson ‘hundreds of thousands’ of jobs would be destroyed unless the Scottish Government bans all alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licences. 

‘Many of our beloved pubs are at real risk, with significantly reduced trade and increased costs as a result of questionable restrictions,’ he said in his letter.

‘I feel the answer to the hospitality conundrum is as follows, that the Scottish Government bans all alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licences.

‘Allow the sale of alcohol to be restricted to pubs and restaurants – this will boost local economies and safeguard thousands of jobs.’

Mr Lawson’s bar in Inverness is not affected by Miss Sturgeon’s blanket shutdown of licensed premises across Scotland’s central belt, which is managed by Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley.

However, the Johnny Foxes landlord is not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors and has to close his business at 6pm in line with the nation-wide hospitality curfew.

Meanwhile, five hospitality industry bodies in Scotland have launched legal action against shutdown measures which are crippling the trade. 

A joint pre-action letter has been sent to Holyrood by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland. 

The original introduction of the measures prompted hospitality chiefs to warn of a ‘death sentence’ for hundreds of Scottish venues.

Its planned extension until the start of next November has been met with dismay across the sector, with Stephen Montgomery, from the Scottish Hospitality Group, writing in today’s Daily Mail that the ‘Scottish Government effectively called last orders on our country’s hospitality industry’.

It comes as Miss Sturgeon’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch grimly branded hopes of a traditional Christmas gathering as a ‘fiction’, flippantly adding: ‘People should get their digital Christmas ready.’

In other coronavirus developments today: 

  • Rishi Sunak unveiled yet another bailout amid warnings that thousands of bars and restaurants in Tier 2 lockdown areas face going bust;
  • The UK today announced another 21,242 positive tests and 189 deaths as Sir Patrick Vallance claimed 90,000 could be catching the virus every day;
  • The Canary Islands, Mykonos, the Maldives and Denmark were all added to the UK’s list of travel corridors but Alpine tax haven Liechtenstein was removed;
  • Shocking official figures today show that 17 per cent of firms in the accommodation and food services industry are at ‘severe’ risk of insolvency; 
  • South Yorkshire agreed a deal to move into Tier 3 from Saturday, meaning 7.3million in England will be living under the toughest Covid rules; 
  • Boris Johnson sought to bypass Andy Burnham by offering £60million of coronavirus help directly to local councils in Greater Manchester;   
  • Hospitals stepped up the cancellation of routine surgery and non-Covid appointments amid a surge in virus admissions. 

Furious Scottish landlords are today calling on Nicola Sturgeon to ban alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licences as hospitality chiefs launch legal action against Covid-19 restrictions imposed on the trade by Holyrood (pictured, the Last Drop pub in Edinburgh)

The First Minister has been hit with a wave of anger after it emerged she wants to take a harsher approach than the PM, with more levels of curbs to tackle the pandemic

It came as Scotland recorded its deadliest day since May, with 28 deaths linked to Covid-19 registered in 24 hours. A further 1,739 people tested positive, with 49 patients admitted to hospital. There are now 73 people in intensive care units across the country

It came as Scotland recorded its deadliest day since May, with 28 deaths linked to Covid-19 registered in 24 hours. A further 1,739 people tested positive, with 49 patients admitted to hospital. There are now 73 people in intensive care units across the country

Mr Lawson’s suggestion has provoked a mixed reaction across Scotland’s hospitality industry, with Stuart McPhee, the director of Siberia Aberdeen and spokesman for the Aberdeen Hospitality Group, saying the proposal had some merit.

‘I’m all for trialling anything. It’s as radical as any,’ he said. ‘I’ve certainly advocated a few ideas such as shutting down premises who are not following the rules.

Q&A on Scotland’s coronavirus lockdown

I live in the Central Belt, which is under the strongest restrictions in Scotland at present. Will we be placed into the highest tier when the new system comes in?

It is expected that no areas will initially be placed into the top, fifth tier under current proposals. Instead, areas under the toughest restrictions at present will likely be placed in the fourth tier when the system comes into force on November 2. This could involve a continuation of current restrictions, such as the closure of licensed premises.

Our children missed a lot of school towards the end of the last academic year because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Could schools close again?

Nicola Sturgeon has said her ‘default’ position is to keep schools open through any future lockdown and has highlighted other countries which kept the education system going, even during full lockdown. Under the new tier system, schools should not automatically close, even if the local area enters the top alert level. It’s thought a ‘judgment’ will be made on a case-by-case basis over whether pupils would be sent home.

Are there any tiers that would see life go back to normal?

Yes, under tier zero, it is expected that life would resemble pre-pandemic normality.

Will the tiers be implemented at health board or local authority level?

It is thought restrictions will be set by council area, rather than health board, as is the case with current restrictions.

What will be the rules for areas in the highest tier?

Those living in an area placed under top tier restrictions would experience limitations almost as severe as the full lockdown imposed across the UK in March, when people were told to ‘stay at home’ and there were strict limits on travel.

What will the three middle tiers involve?

These are said to ‘broadly mirror’ the English system. The ‘rule of six’ is expected to apply in the second tier, meaning people can only socialise indoors or outdoors in groups of six adults from a maximum of two households. The rule will apply to pubs and restaurants, where customers will also be required to wear face coverings indoors when they are not eating and drinking. The next tier will reportedly see Scots prohibited from socialising in any indoor setting with people from outside their household or extended household. The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors.

In the fourth tier, it is expected that people will be prohibited from socialising indoors or outdoors with anybody they do not live with, or with whom they have not formed an extended household.

‘We need to be working as an industry alongside the Scottish Government to find a solution, given that we’re the third-biggest employer in the country.’

Meanwhile, the industry giants are taking legal action against the Scottish Government. In its pre-action letter, they have requested a response to legal challenges by 4pm on Wednesday, otherwise the parties say they will ask the courts for a judicial review. 

Paul Waterson, group spokesman, said: ‘We understand and entirely support the goal of suppressing the virus, but our sector is at breaking point.

‘Despite having more mitigation measures than other sectors and the vast majority of operators going above and beyond in ensuring customer safety, our sector has been repeatedly targeted without consultation and without the evidence. Anecdotal evidence is not the way to go about making Government decisions and the sector should not be used as a balance to uncontrollable risks in other far less regulated and unmonitored sectors.

‘The economic support offered to premises doesn’t come close to compensating the businesses and means jobs are being lost and livelihoods ruined.

‘Any measures must be proportionate and be backed up by evidence, we do not believe that is the case here.

‘The industry simply cannot endure the extension of the current restriction, further restrictive measures expected from the 2nd of November, or to get into a stop-start situation.

‘We are now facing the end of our industry as we know it. The battle is now on to save the hospitality sector.’

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are using the powers we have to help businesses, offering support which now exceeds £2.3billion, including 100 per cent rates relief for pubs and restaurants for the year, and we will extend financial support available to businesses who must stay closed or continue to restrict their trading to cover the additional week of restrictions.

“We are confident the temporary restrictions are essential and proportionate to the risk posed by coronavirus if we are to prevent a return to the dangerous level of infections experienced earlier this year. We will respond to the letter in due course.”   

Since Miss Sturgeon’s restrictions were imposed earlier this month, many pubs have opted to close rather than trade under the dire economic circumstances.

Those still open are battling to make ends meet, with Shirley Bowden, director and owner of the Brew Toon brewery and bar in Peterhead, revealing that selling her produce in shops had become an increasingly important source of income.

She said: ‘We are busy with online sales, and the bars that do the outdoor areas are continuing to place orders.

‘Our bar has been closed, but due to demand from customers, we have done a few pop-up bars in the local area, like at Cruden Bay harbour and the centre of Peterhead. We’re just taking each day as it comes.’

However, Darren Murray, the owner of the St Machar Bar in Old Aberdeen, said he was not in favour of banning the sale of alcohol in shops, calling the measure ‘a bit extreme’. 

He added: ‘It might actually drive some resentment towards hospitality. There should definitely be more stringent track and trace in other places like shopping centres, to show the issue is wider than just hospitality.’

Mr Waterson, speaking on behalf of the Scottish Licensing Trade Association, claimed that the sale of alcohol in shops was more likely to contribute to a rise in Covid-19 cases. 

Don Lawson, owner of the Inverness bar Johnny Foxes, proposed the drastic measure to preserve hospitality jobs, which are most at risk from the Covid-19 shutdowns

Don Lawson, owner of the Inverness bar Johnny Foxes, proposed the drastic measure to preserve hospitality jobs, which are most at risk from the Covid-19 shutdowns

The Johnny Foxes pub landlord is not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors and has to close his business at 6pm in line with the nation-wide hospitality curfew

The Johnny Foxes pub landlord is not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors and has to close his business at 6pm in line with the nation-wide hospitality curfew

Measures on the sector due to end on Monday will be extended for a further seven days. These include the closure of licensed premises in the central belt and the curbing of alcohol sales indoors in other parts of the country. Pictured: punters at the Last Drop pub in Edinburgh

Measures on the sector due to end on Monday will be extended for a further seven days. These include the closure of licensed premises in the central belt and the curbing of alcohol sales indoors in other parts of the country. Pictured: punters at the Last Drop pub in Edinburgh

‘If we consider that Covid-19 transmission transmission primarily happens in the home and that there is no evidence that transmission is rife in licensed premises, then forcing people into drinking at home doesn’t seem very logical,’ he warned.

He added: ‘Hundreds of businesses are facing permanent closure and with that thousands of jobs will be lost – the damage could be irreparable.

‘We estimate that two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming months. Over 50 per cent of jobs in the pub and bar sector could also be lost.’  

A spokesman for the Scottish Retail Consortium added: ‘Grocery retailers take their duty to responsibly sell alcohol incredibly seriously.

‘An outright ban on off-sales would do absolutely nothing to help the hospitality industry and would enormously impact brewers, distillers, and other often Scottish suppliers whose ability to legitimately sell alcohol would be halted.’

Paul Quinn, a partner at the Garlogie Inn near Westhill, said having an emphasis on food had helped the premises to remain successful this month.

He said: ‘Things haven’t been all too bad during the recent restrictions. I can imagine bars that just serve drinks are really struggling, but we’ve always been more focused on food, with drink as an aside.

‘Once the 6pm cut-off kicks in, we’ve been doing takeaway service as well, and we’ve started doing afternoon teas too, so we’ve adapted to what’s been thrown at us.’

Details of Scotland’s new tier system are due to be spelled out tomorrow, with the highest bracket potentially condemning large areas to a March-style squeeze. 

It will raise concerns that England could end up in a similar position, as has often happened during the previous phases of the crisis.

But pubs, restaurants and retailers are already voicing alarm they face a catastrophic winter, with dire predictions that two-thirds of hospitality firms could close.

The licensed trade said businesses had been kept ‘completely in the dark’ about the fresh wave of regulations, and warned the sector was ‘staring into the abyss’, with thousands of jobs at risk. 

Writing in the Mail, Mr Montgomery, from the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: ‘Yesterday the Scottish Government effectively called last orders on our country’s hospitality industry. Hundreds of viable businesses now face closure, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people.

‘Time and time again we have called on the Government to work with us on a solution. Time and time again we have faced a closed door.

Prof Leitch told BBC Scotland that while there may be some 'normality' over Christmas, 'we're not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction'

Prof Leitch told BBC Scotland that while there may be some ‘normality’ over Christmas, ‘we’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction’

Shoppers walk yesterday along Princes Street, which is the main shopping area in Edinburgh

Shoppers walk yesterday along Princes Street, which is the main shopping area in Edinburgh

‘The next few days will be critical. The hospitality sector is on a financial precipice as the long, difficult winter stretches ahead.’     

It came as Scotland recorded its deadliest day since May, with 28 deaths linked to Covid-19 registered in 24 hours. 

Get ready for Christmas by ZOOM: Scotland’s top medic warns that family hopes of a large festive gathering this year are a ‘fiction’ 

Family hopes of a large Christmas gathering are a ‘fiction’ and families should prepare to see loved ones over Zoom, Scotland’s top medic warned today. 

National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch (below) said he is hopeful that by sticking to tough restrictions, Scots could enjoy ‘some form of normality’ over the festive break.

But he was clear people should not expect to have large gatherings involving multiple households this year.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: ‘Christmas is not going to be normal, there is absolutely no question about that.

‘We’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year.

‘I am hopeful, if we can get the numbers down to a certain level, we may be able to get some form of normality.

‘People should get their digital Christmas ready.’

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said that after making huge sacrifices for months, Scots will be ‘devastated to hear that Christmas as they know it is cancelled’.

He said: ‘Many will rightly question whether the Government have used the past six months as well as they could have to expand testing, shore up our NHS and prepare for a second wave.

‘If the Government expects months more of sacrifices it needs to be honest with the public – Nicola Sturgeon must release the data and projections underpinning these proposals and allow the public to debate them openly.’

 

A further 1,739 people tested positive, with 49 patients admitted to hospital. There are now 73 people in intensive care units across the country.

The new five-tier system is due to be rolled out on November 2.

Misss Sturgeon has said current restrictions on pubs and restaurants will remain in place until then.

She has already indicated that the three middle tiers will be broadly similar to the new system in England – where areas are classed as being at either ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk.

But there will also be a lower level in Scotland for areas with fewer cases of Covid-19, and clinical director Prof Jason Leitch indicated travel restrictions will be put in place to prevent people from higher tiers moving into these.

In areas in the lowest tier, he said people will have ‘slightly more freedoms than other parts of the country’.

In contrast, Prof Leitch said areas in the highest tier would be under a ‘fuller’ lockdown, though schools would remain ‘as open as possible’.

The new system is not expected to come into place until November 2, replacing temporary restrictions on the hospitality sector which were on Wednesday extended for another week up to that date.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme today, Professor Leitch said work is under way by advisers on what levels should be applied in different areas.

He said: ‘We will give advice and then the decision makers will make those choices over the weekend and into next week.’

He explained a five-tier system is preferred in Scotland over the three levels in England because ‘we think as advisers you have to have everything in your toolbox’.

He added: ‘You have to have the lower end, because if you were an area of Scotland with very low prevalence… then you could perhaps have slightly more freedoms than other parts of the country.

‘Then there’s the middle ones… kind of what we are in just now in various parts of the country.

‘But we think you need something in your toolbox that says if those aren’t working in time to protect the National Health Service, to protect individuals from the disease, you have the option of a fuller, unfortunate lockdown.’ 

Prof Leitch also delivered a stark warning that hopes for a family Christmas this year are ‘fiction’. 

He said: ‘Christmas is not going to be normal, there is absolutely no question about that.

‘We’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year.

‘I am hopeful, if we can get the numbers down to a certain level, we may be able to get some form of normality.

‘People should get their digital Christmas ready.’

According to business bosses, they had been assured that the First Minister would remain ‘as closely aligned with the rest of the UK as possible’.

But her comments yesterday revealed she is willing to impose far harsher restrictions than those in England. 

During her Covid briefing yesterday, Miss Sturgeon said: ‘Let me explain the logic for the five tiers, which I think is very strong. 

‘The middle three tiers will be broadly equivalent to the three tiers in England which they describe as medium, high and very high.

‘We think we need one at the bottom, which is the level we would be aspiring to this side of getting a vaccine, which is closest to normality we could reasonably expect. 

‘We think it’s important to have that until we all know what we’re working towards. We also think we need another one [tier] at the top.’

Two young men sit on a park bench in Edinburgh yesterday as the pandemic continues

Two young men sit on a park bench in Edinburgh yesterday as the pandemic continues

A little girl runs past a sign outside a premises on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh yesterday

A little girl runs past a sign outside a premises on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh yesterday

Miss Sturgeon said that when Boris Johnson published his tier system, his Chief Medical Officer thought the top level was ‘not enough to necessarily, in all circumstances, get the virus down’.

She said Scotland’s top level would be closer to the ‘full lockdown’ imposed across the country in March, but at a local level. 

Miss Sturgeon signalled that schools would remain open in the top tier but depending on circumstances ‘a move to blended learning in some council areas could be required’.

The highest tier in England includes a ban on socialising with other households both indoors and outdoors. 

Pubs and bars are closed unless they operate as restaurants, with alcohol only served alongside a substantial meal.

Last night, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association hit out at Miss Sturgeon’s plans. 

A spokesman said: ‘There’s huge concern from businesses who are now completely in the dark about when they might be able to reopen again.

‘We don’t know how many tiers there will be, what the restrictions will be in each, or which areas are going to be in which tiers. 

‘The closure was meant to be temporary, but the announcement today and potential for further restrictions has left the trade staring into the abyss.’

A recent study revealed nearly 40 per cent of hospitality firms are considering closure. 

Meanwhile, retailers demanded ‘clarity’ about the five-tier system as the Christmas period approaches. 

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: ‘We have consistently called for greater visibility and clarity over potential next steps when it comes to future Covid restrictions, particularly in the run-up to the critical Christmas trading period.’

Scottish Tory health spokesman Brian Whittle said: ‘Businesses can’t go through another confusing SNP debacle like the one they’re still facing over what’s a café and what’s a restaurant.

‘Any confusion would only make it more difficult for people and businesses to do their bit to suppress the virus.’

Miss Sturgeon will tomorrow reveal details of financial support for the businesses affected in coming months.

She said this would be ‘broadly similar’ to that offered south of the Border by the UK Government. 

Miss Sturgeon added that she was urgently seeking to speak to the UK Treasury to enhance the spending packages. 

Pubs face last orders: Business owners ‘feel betrayed over devastating week extension’

Pubs, bars and restaurants have warned they face ‘devastating’ consequences after Scotland’s two-week circuit breaker was extended by Nicola Sturgeon.

The hospitality sector yesterday claimed it had been ‘betrayed’ by the First Minister after she had ‘gone back’ on her word over the restrictions.

The current measures were meant to end on Monday, but Miss Sturgeon said she had made the ‘harsh’ decision to extend them until November 2.

‘We’ve done everything they asked… and we still have to close’ 

James Gulter, 40, and his wife Ioana, 34, run The Hermitage in Edinburgh’s Morningside area and the Spylaw bar in Colinton.

They have been forced to cut six jobs from their 28-strong workforce as a result of the pandemic lockdown measures.

Mr Gulter said he feels the hospitality sector has been unfairly targeted by the Scottish Government measures, which still allow hairdressers, shops and unlicensed cafes to trade.

James Gulter, 40, and his wife Ioana, 34, run The Hermitage in Edinburgh's Morningside area and the Spylaw bar in Colinton

James Gulter, 40, and his wife Ioana, 34, run The Hermitage in Edinburgh’s Morningside area and the Spylaw bar in Colinton

He said: ‘It’s really frustrating and annoying. The hospitality sector has been handled really poorly throughout the pandemic.

‘Another week isn’t going to put the nail in the coffin for us because we have savings but we haven’t been told what will happen the week after next, so we can’t plan.

‘December is our biggest month so we need to know what is coming. We are already probably going to lose office parties and big bookings before Christmas, so we are hoping to offer smaller groups a more premium service.

‘But who knows because every announcement has come with zero warning. It means we have had a lot of unnecessary waste with food and beer stocks.’

The couple took over the Hermitage in 2014 and then its larger sister pub the Spylaw in January 2019. Once the UK Government’s furlough scheme ends, the couple face paying a higher percentage of their staff’s wages.

The couple took over The Hermitage in Edinburgh's Morningside area in 2014

The couple took over The Hermitage in Edinburgh’s Morningside area in 2014

Mr Gulter said both pubs have introduced every social distancing and track and trace measure required.

He said: ‘The customer feedback has been that they feel safe. We have done everything we have been asked to do and still told to close. If the Scottish Government knows something we don’t, then they need to tell us.’

This will see all licensed premises except cafes in the Central Belt forced to remain closed for an additional week.

Other restrictions such as a ban on indoor gym classes and contact sports for adults will also remain in place across the five health board areas – including Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Lothian.

In other parts of Scotland, restaurants and pubs can stay open between 6am and 6pm – but alcohol is only allowed to be served until 10pm outside.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘This news is absolutely devastating for the sector.

‘We were told that these measures were to be ‘short’ and ‘sharp’ but now the Scottish Government have gone back on that, leaving operators feeling betrayed.

‘The extension of the economic support is welcome, but still in no way makes up for the lost income of another week fully closed. The trade now feels even more let down by the Government and unfairly targeted by the measures which are costing jobs and livelihoods.

‘Scotland’s pubs and bars have repeatedly been subject to some of the most penalising restrictions in the world, but without the evidence to back it up. The situation cannot continue.’

Speaking at her briefing yesterday, Miss Sturgeon said she had agreed, with her Cabinet, to extend the short-term restrictions to ensure a ‘smooth transition’ to the new five-tier system which will come into force on November 2.

Announcing the extension, she said: ‘I know all of this is really unwelcome and I know that these restrictions are harsh.

‘They are harsh financially for many individuals and businesses, and they are harsh emotionally for all of us.

‘I want to stress again none of these decisions are being taken lightly – this is about trying to minimise the health damage we know this virus is capable of doing.’

But business bosses hit out at the move, with Liz Cameron of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce saying that the hospitality sector would be ‘absolutely devastated that restrictions now look to be in place indefinitely’.

She said: ‘We were advised that temporary restrictions would help to reduce the spread of the virus. But now the temporary restrictions have been extended, which make it impossible for businesses to rebuild and protect jobs.

‘This short-term reactive approach is no longer enough. Where is the plan that we can all get alongside to help the Scottish Government to both manage the virus and ensure the economy can also return to health?’

Campaign for Real Ale spokesman Joe Crawford said that the announcement was a ‘hammer blow’ to pubs and breweries ‘who feel like they’re being offered up as a sacrificial lamb without sufficient evidence’.

Last night, hospitality bosses launched a Save Our Jobs campaign following Miss Sturgeon’s announcement.

It demands support from the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure up to 100,000 jobs are not lost in bars and restaurants across the country when the furlough scheme ends on October 31.

Michelin-star chef Tom Kitchin, Signature Group boss Nic Wood –the head of one of Scotland’s biggest pub groups – and other hospitality sector bosses and staff have joined the campaign.

Mr Kitchin said: ‘Our industry is in real need of help, especially having only just partly recovered from the first lockdown.

‘Eliminating the risks of the virus is our greatest concern, but there needs to be a balance for the hospitality future of Scotland.’

Mr Wood said that he hopes the campaign will highlight the plight of the young hospitality workforce, with 50 per cent of all staff aged between 16 and 24.

The Scottish Government has provided £40million to affected businesses over the original 16-day closure period, and Miss Sturgeon said this would be extended on a ‘proportionate’ basis.

Research shows that the industry spent around £15million on training and implementing social-distancing measures across the entire sector to reopen businesses and rebuild consumer confidence.

However, a large number of licensed premises have not reopened at all since March as they would not be viable as a result of a decrease in their capacity in order to adhere to social distancing regulations. 

If the SNP don’t give us a seat at the table, they’ll be destroying a £10bn industry, says Stephen Montgomery

STEPHEN MONTGOMERY: Yesterday the Scottish Government effectively called last orders on our country's hospitality industry. Hundreds of viable businesses now face closure

STEPHEN MONTGOMERY: Yesterday the Scottish Government effectively called last orders on our country’s hospitality industry. Hundreds of viable businesses now face closure

Yesterday the Scottish Government effectively called last orders on our country’s hospitality industry.

Hundreds of viable businesses now face closure, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Time and time again we have called on the Government to work with us on a solution.

Time and time again we have faced a closed door.

The next few days will be critical. The hospitality sector is on a financial precipice as the long, difficult winter stretches ahead.

When I spoke to owners and operators across the country following the announcement yesterday, their despair and desperation was palpable.

I could sense that they had lost faith in the Government to protect jobs, support businesses and lead Scotland through these unprecedented times.

Catastrophic The First Minister said that the decisions her Government is making have not been easy.

But for a business owner, the decision to lay off half your staff is far from easy.

A further week of restrictions is catastrophic for a sector that is already on its knees, with the two-week closure costing £10million in revenue across Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) members alone.

And it is not only hospitality staff at risk but jobs at the thousands of businesses in our supply chains, from butchers on local high streets to brewers and fishermen.

We have repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to work with us on a solution to safeguard an industry that is the third biggest employer in the country.

Scotland’s bars and restaurants have demonstrated again and again that they are willing to work with the Government and are doing absolutely everything asked of them to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Responsibly run bars and restaurants should be regarded as a vital part of the solution, as evidence shows that people will socialise at home or other venues that have no social distancing.

As well as the public health risks of shutting down the hospitality sector, the economic cost is catastrophic for an industry worth £10.6billion to the Scottish economy annually, and which employs 285,000 people – many of them young Scots under 25.

I am now pleading directly to the First Minister.

Stop shutting us out. Give us a seat at the table to provide our experience, support, and critical industry knowledge before important decisions are made that affect the future of our businesses and the lives of our employees.

The hospitality industry has repeatedly felt the brunt of restrictions. We have repeatedly called for adequate financial support that will keep venues viable, save jobs and protect livelihoods.

While the First Minister consistently lays blame with the UK Government for her Government’s inability to provide further financial support, there are actions she can take today to provide some hope of a longer-term financial solution.

Business rates are fully devolved to Scotland. Put your money where your mouth is and extend the relief for hospitality until April 2022.

Press the UK Government harder for the money required for a sector-specific furlough scheme and the funding hospitality businesses across the country need to survive winter. This will give businesses some hope that the Government is trying to help.

Every business is facing a unique situation, with some operators outside the Central Belt forced to close because they cannot trade viably under the current restrictions, leaving them unable to access full Scottish Government support or the new furlough scheme.

Manchester, with its 1,912 licensed premises, could receive up to £60million in government support. This works out at more than £31,000 per premises, against the woefully inadequate £3,500 potentially on the table from the Scottish Government.

Beyond the overall level of support, there remains damaging and unacceptable uncertainty over how financial support will be accessed and administered, and an effective postcode lottery in the levels of support that businesses in different parts of the country are able to access.

Solution Such regional variation will only become more pronounced as we move to varying levels of restrictions from November 2.

Scotland’s hospitality sector should not – and cannot – be left short-changed compared to other parts of the UK.

The hospitality industry has constantly done everything asked of it – and more – by the Government in order to protect customers and staff and be part of the solution to beating coronavirus in Scotland.

There is still no scientific evidence to support the shutdown of pubs and restaurants in Scotland.

Since July, SHG members have served more than 1.8million customers and have had only 17 confirmed cases of Covid-19. In our premises we have track and trace, PPE, social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

The inevitable increase of socialising in uncontrolled, unmonitored environments, such as house parties, will only increase as we enter the cold, dark winter months.

Our businesses are part of the solution to fight this virus, not part of the problem.

We have put our trust in this elected Government to navigate us through this crisis.

But trust works two ways.

We are owners and operators working at the coalface.

Evidence After 16 days, there is still no clear indication that virus case numbers are dropping, despite the closure of bars and restaurants.

Restrictions must be based on evidence or they are disproportionate and unfair.

Now the Government must engage and listen to business owners to regain trust.

Scotland’s bars and restaurants have demonstrated again and again that they are willing to work with the Government and be part of the solution to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The winds of change have begun to blow across the industry. We need action to save our industry now.

Without a seat at the table, and without further financial support, hundreds of once flourishing businesses at the heart of communities up and down the country will be forced to call last orders for the final time.

  • Stephen Montgomery is the owner of two hospitality businesses in Dumfries and Galloway and the spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group , which comprises many of the country’s largest and best-known restaurant and bar businesses, including the DRG Group , Buzzworks Holdings, Signature Pubs, Montpeliers,  Manorview Group, Lisini Pub Co, Caledonia Inns, G1 Group, Siberia Bar & Hotel, Mor-Rioghain, Group and Caledonian Heritable.



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Devastating coronavirus rules mean landlords face ruin. ROBERT HARDMAN examines the effect on owners


As every new edict is handed down from the authors of the Covid rulebook, Frances Gledhill and her team here at the Red Pump Inn in the wilds of the Forest of Bowland have somehow found a way of making it work.

Indeed, they have gone the extra mile in their quest to make their remote country pub as safe and welcoming as possible. Hence the smart, open-sided marquee in the garden for extra, ventilated drinking space.

However, they fear that this week’s new round of restrictions may finally have got the better of them.

And it is a story which we will soon hear echoed right across the country.

On Wednesday, this panoramic spot in the middle of nowhere found itself placed under Tier 2 rules.

That is because the Red Pump Inn sits in a far-flung corner of the Red Rose county of Lancashire. And that puts it in the same bracket as far-away Covid hotspots like Blackpool and Blackburn.

The new restrictions, says Frances, have taken things to the brink.

Proprietor Frances Gledhill of the Red Pump inn, near Whitewell, Lancashire. Pubs and bars in the Manchester and Lancashire regions are to be placed into Covid-19 alert level tier 3

Now, if her pub (famous for its award-winning steaks) is tipped in to Tier 3, as is widely expected for Greater Manchester and the whole of Lancashire at any moment, then she may have no option but to shut up shop. 

She can cope with curfews and one-way systems for the loos and the ban on standing at the bar and the masks and all the rest.

But the loss of those customers who simply want to drop in for a pint – and who are outlawed under the Tier 3 ban on bar sales – will take out a further 20 per cent of takings. That, says Frances, could be the difference between struggling and sinking.

What’s more, she is already dealing with an excruciating task – one which now faces thousands of restaurant staff across much of the country, including London: sitting in judgment on other people’s relationships. 

For under both Tier 2 and Tier 3 rules, diners are forbidden from eating out with people from another household. That one restriction has just cost Frances £1,000 in cancelled bookings for this weekend alone.

‘We had several tables of six booked. One of them had been booked by three couples who had each also booked a room or one of our yurts in the garden.

So all those reservations have gone too.’ At least those guests were being honest. But what is a restaurant supposed to do with people who are either liars or else lead less conventional lives?

‘What are you expected to say when four adults sit down at a table and insist that they all live together?,’ asks Frances.

‘I can’t ask to see proof of their addresses. And I don’t want to be the Gestapo. This is supposed to be the hospitality industry!’

She has already had one unhappy confrontation with a customer who arrived for a family dinner with his grown-up children, admitted that they did not all live under one roof and then became ‘argumentative’ when she explained they would need separate tables.

And that was just on Night One of the new system. The vast majority of her diners, she says, will play by the rules. But it means that every day from now on is going to be like February 14th – minus the red roses and the chocolates.

‘It’s going to be Valentine’s Day all the time – just lots of tables of two,’ she says, ‘plus you might get parents with kids for a Sunday lunch. But that’s not enough to keep a pub going through the winter.’ 

Frances Gledhill and her team at the Red Pump Inn fear that this week’s new round of restrictions may finally have got the better of them

Frances Gledhill and her team at the Red Pump Inn fear that this week’s new round of restrictions may finally have got the better of them

800 yards… but a world apart 

Two pubs, just a few minutes walk from one another, will be living under separate rules from midnight tonight in a stark example of divided Britain.

The Bell and Harp in Little Eaton, Derbyshire, falls within the Erewash council boundary – and was dumped into Tier Two of the new restrictions yesterday with different households now banned from mixing indoors.

Tracie Tunnicliffe, owner of The Fox and Hounds, which is in Coxbench, Derbyshire. It falls under Amber Valley council area and is better off than a neighbouring pub - The Bell and Harp - which is just 400 yards away and used to be in Coxbench but is now classed as Little Eaton after the boundary was moved

Tracie Tunnicliffe, owner of The Fox and Hounds, which is in Coxbench, Derbyshire. It falls under Amber Valley council area and is better off than a neighbouring pub – The Bell and Harp – which is just 400 yards away and used to be in Coxbench but is now classed as Little Eaton after the boundary was moved

Yet half a mile up the road, the Fox and Hounds in the village of Coxbench will carry on trading under existing restrictions, such as the rule of six. The country inn falls within the Amber Valley council area, which is under the lightest Tier One restrictions.

Fox and Hounds landlady Tracie Tunnicliffe, 59, said: ‘It seems crazy that two pubs so close will be operating under different restrictions. I’m sick of living from week to week or day to day, wondering what might be imposed next.’

Co-owners of The Bell and Harp John Green (left) and Martin Archer. The Bell and Harp is now classed as Little Eaton after the boundary was moved. Little Eaton is in Erewash, and the pub pays its council tax to Erewash district council, so it will be affected by the new rules

Co-owners of The Bell and Harp John Green (left) and Martin Archer. The Bell and Harp is now classed as Little Eaton after the boundary was moved. Little Eaton is in Erewash, and the pub pays its council tax to Erewash district council, so it will be affected by the new rules

It’s a similar situation a few miles away in Chipping, a handsome village with a tiny Post Office that claims to be the oldest shop in continuous use in the whole of England. Next door is the Tillotson Arms, a free-house run by Janet and Carl Watson.

With plenty of local ales on tap, two thriving darts teams and a mustard-keen dominoes league, ‘Tilly’s’ has always been a much-loved hub for a village which still revolves around farming.

Far-off Greater Manchester seems like another planet. But its infection rates now dictate the pace of life in sleepy Chipping, where the local pub has yet to receive a single call from the track-and-trace network.

The ban on drinking at the bar had already consigned the pool table to the garage so that Janet could find room for extra Covid-compliant tables and chairs. This week’s Tier 2 rules mean that people can now only come here with their families. ‘The main reason people want to come to the pub is to see their friends and leave their families behind at home,’ says Janet, with a hollow laugh.

She and Carl made it through the spring lockdown thanks to the Government’s one-off business grant and have since tried everything in their quest to keep this place alive. 

New initiatives include brunch (or ‘Sunday breakfasts’ as they say in Chipping) and a scheme whereby home-workers can reserve a pub table for the day, bring the laptop to Tilly’s and enjoy limitless tea, coffee and biscuits. 

There is now a beer garden, too. ‘It had a new gazebo but that blew away the other day – so that was another £200 gone,’ sighs Janet. 

The 10pm curfew was bad – ‘a lot of our farmers can’t get down here much before ten anyway’ – and the ban on meeting friends has been even worse. 

But the imposition of a Tier 3 ban on all drinks (unless people order a meal) could be disastrous. ‘I think we might have to shut down until the spring and I’ll have to find a job doing something else,’ says Janet.

Ten miles away, the car park is full at one of north Lancashire’s best-known haunts, the Inn at Whitewell. Inside, however, business is down by 50 per cent because every table is occupied by just two people.

This famous old hotel draws walkers from across the North who like to stride across the moors and then adjourn for a drink and the famous fish pie. 

It has glorious views and the honour of being the last place where the Queen enjoyed a pub lunch. After all, she also happens to own the freehold since Whitewell sits on land belonging to her Duchy of Lancaster.

‘I remember the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001 and that was bad,’ says the proprietor, Charlie Bowman. ‘But nothing can ever prepare you for 103 consecutive days with the doors shut. Our main priority through all of this – and still right now – is hanging on to our staff.’ 

His brewery-owning grandfather bought the hotel because he enjoyed fishing on the adjacent river. His father Richard, who played cricket for Lancashire, filled the place with his collection of antiques.

Mr Bowman remains resolutely cheerful as he talks me through some of the unexpected challenges of recent months, like having to find storage space for all the antiques which have had to make way for new Covid-era furniture.

Tier 2, he says, has been bad enough. And Tier 3? As well as banning the traditional pub customers, the top tier includes a ban on ‘all unnecessary travel’ – which has obvious and dire implications for any pub in the back of beyond.

‘I haven’t done the financials on that yet,’ says Mr Bowman. ‘We just don’t know what’s happening. And anyway, I can’t face it!’           

The British pub is safer than a supermarket aisle – yet now, through utter foolishness, it faces oblivion

Commentary by Patrick Dardis, Chief Executive of Young’s Pubs

Patrick Dardis, Chief Executive of Young's Pubs brewery group

Patrick Dardis, Chief Executive of Young’s Pubs brewery group

The disastrous and counter-productive extension of lockdowns announced by the Government yesterday is a catastrophe from which the pub trade will never fully recover.

By banning household mixing in pubs in London and beyond, Boris Johnson is condemning hundreds of thousands of the 1.3million people who work in it to the scrapheap of unemployment.

And millions more will have their social lives grievously disrupted. Personally, I am still in a state of shock from the realisation that as of tomorrow, I will be forbidden to meet my own son for a pint.

Mr Johnson might respond by suggesting we go to the pub garden – which is still allowed in groups of up to six – but I’m afraid this merely underlines how this government fails to understand human nature. Drinking outside is scarcely a tempting prospect as autumn makes way for the hard chill of November.

When the first shutdown was eased back in July, Britain’s 60,000 or so publicans spent tens of millions of pounds turning their pubs into biosecure sanctuaries from the national trauma of Covid – becoming experts on virology and the installation of Perspex screens overnight.

Extra staff were recruited and trained, facemasks were procured and bottles of hand gel appeared where once there had been bowls of peanuts.

Our pubs are now safer than most supermarket aisles, yet we are the ones facing oblivion, writes Patrick Dardis, Chief Executive of Young Pubs

Our pubs are now safer than most supermarket aisles, yet we are the ones facing oblivion, writes Patrick Dardis, Chief Executive of Young Pubs

Pub staff became recruiters for track and trace, urging drinkers to download and use the government app. They kept their side of the bargain by making their premises safe, preventing the build-up of large crowds of standing drinkers outside and coming down hard when the pub threatened to get rowdy. 

The brewery I run, Young & Co, has 300 pubs. Due to the dedication of our publicans and staff, I can report that across the entire pub estate, we have had precisely three members of staff and six customers notify us of a positive Covid test since July.

Our pubs are now safer than most supermarket aisles, yet we are the ones facing oblivion. Public Health England says pubs and restaurants account for less than three per cent of transmissions; our experience suggests the figure is much lower than that.

The pubs did their bit – and much more – and yesterday the Government responded with drastic new measures in London and other cities which will tip thousands of them into oblivion.

This is the second hammer blow the trade has suffered, coming as it does after last month’s abrupt and entirely pointless 10pm curfew.

This actually increased the threat by creating ‘Petri-bubbles’ of cross-infection in city streets as people simultaneously trudged home or crammed on to public transport.

When pubs were allowed to reopen in July, we estimated cautiously that about 5,000 pubs would not survive.

Patrick Dardis: When pubs were allowed to reopen in July, we estimated cautiously that about 5,000 pubs would not survive. Pictured: People wearing face masks in Covent Garden in central London walk past the White Lion pub

Patrick Dardis: When pubs were allowed to reopen in July, we estimated cautiously that about 5,000 pubs would not survive. Pictured: People wearing face masks in Covent Garden in central London walk past the White Lion pub

But after the reckless introduction of the curfew, which predictably killed trade, I doubled this figure to 10,000. Now, with regional Tier Two restrictions covering half of England’s population, I think we will lose a third – that’s 20,000 British pubs.

I hesitate even to contemplate the number of job losses but certainly it will be several hundred thousand. The same contempt has also been shown towards restaurants, still subject to the 10pm curfew, which literally no one in the industry understands and no minister has even tried to justify.

I’m afraid that Boris Johnson’s decision to take the path of least resistance and cave in to his scientific advisers and muddle-headed epidemic ‘modellers’ is the last straw for the UK’s once booming hospitality trade.

London is becoming a wasteland of shuttered pubs, restaurants and theatres, and it is not Covid that is doing the damage but Mr Johnson’s abysmally ill-considered response.

If you want to know how foolish this move against pubs is, just watch the queues of shoppers buying up supermarket wine and lager this weekend.

Much of it will be consumed at the sort of rowdy, unpoliced parties that the Government says it wants to stop. And it is insane to believe that this sort of drunken housepartying poses less risk of virus transmission than a well-run pub.

My advice to regular drinkers who are no longer allowed to meet friends for a drink in their local is not to spend the coming weeks fantasising about that first pint with friends.

Because by the time the new lockdowns are lifted and Mr Johnson deems it safe for you to go back to your local pub, the chances are you will find it has permanently closed.   



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Coronavirus lockdown UK: Fury as landlords lash out at pub arbitrary rules


The Government today said a Cornish pasty would only be considered a ‘substantial meal’ under new lockdown restrictions if it came on a plate with a salad or chips.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that only a pasty that came with a side and was served to a table in a pub could be considered as ‘a normal meal’.  

He added that patrons must eat this type of meal to be served alcohol in pubs in areas subject to the most stringent level of the Government’s new local tier system. 

It comes as pub bosses slammed the Government for ‘targeting’ them with new restrictions amid confusion over what food has to be served for them to stay open.

The British Beer and Pub Association said further restrictions targeting the industry in the areas worst hit by Covid-19 will lead to permanent closures and job losses.

It comes as: 

  • Registered deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales rose to their highest level since early July, with 321 deaths registered in the week to October 2;
  • Derriford Hospital in Plymouth has become the latest hospital to cancel routine inpatient operations to make way for Covid patients;
  • Essex County Council will ask Matt Hancock for stricter Covid-19 restrictions;
  • A member of the panel of scientists advising ministers said a ‘circuit break’ lockdown would have prevented ‘intensive and long-term’ restrictions later;
  • Unemployment in Britain has jumped to its highest level since early 2017 amid fears that millions more people will be on the dole queue by Christmas;
  • The US has reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus reinfection.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC Radio today (pictured) that only a Cornish pasty that came with a and was served on a plate to a table could be considered as ‘a normal meal’

✓  A Cornish pasty with a side salad on a plate would be considered a 'substantial meal'

✓  A Cornish pasty with a side salad on a plate would be considered a ‘substantial meal’

✗  A Cornish pasty without a salad or chips and not on a plate would not be a ‘substantial meal’

Pubs can remain open in areas under the most stringent level of the Government’s new local tier system – but only if they serve customers certain meals with drinks.

Those that just sell alcohol must close under ‘tier three’, the toughest new measures, which apply only to Liverpool initially where there is a ban on social mixing indoors.

Fancy a pint? Buy a meal (not just crisps) 

Pubs can remain open in areas under the most stringent rules – but only if they serve customers meals with their drinks.

Those that just sell alcohol must close under ‘tier three’, the toughest new measures, which apply only to Liverpool initially.

Diners will be required to eat ‘substantial meals’ rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks.

Social mixing will be banned both indoors and in private gardens, so people cannot go out with anyone outside their household.

Both the police and the council will be responsible for enforcing the ‘substantial meal’ rules.

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, said: ‘It’s not entirely clear if you had a sausage roll with a bowl of chips, would that be substantial? I’m not clear on that.’

He asked if there would be support for pubs that are not forced to close but are unable to make a living. 

Diners at open pubs will be required to eat ‘substantial meals’ rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks, but Twitter users joked today about the guidance on Cornish pasties – and one MP cast doubt on the practicality of the new measures.

Matt Knight from Essex said: ‘Wonder if in 20 years the Covid history books will dedicate a chapter to whether a Cornish Pasty with chips or side salad counted as a substantial meal and if it helped halt the rise of coronavirus.’ 

John Chandler from Milton Keynes added: ‘Okay, I’ll allow ‘with chips’ dubious as it may be (a pasty should be a meal in itself). But a Cornish pasty with a side salad? Who on earth has a pasty with a side salad?’

And Richard Pollins from London said: ‘I’m not getting involved in the politics of this but whether or not a Cornish pasty comes with chips or a side salad – it is a decent lunch or oversized snack – it is not a substantial meal.’

In addition, Maren Bennette from Cornwall tweeted: ‘A decent Cornish pasty us a substantial meal in itsself. That’s what it was designed to be, with pastry, vegetables and meat. 

‘Miners would take it underground to eat at lunchtime. If it satisfied the hunger of a hard working miner it *had* to be substantial.’

It comes after Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield. said yesterday: ‘It’s not entirely clear if you had a sausage roll with a bowl of chips, would that be substantial? I’m not clear on that.’

He also asked if there would be support for pubs that are not forced to close but are unable to make a living.

Today, Mr Jenrick told LBC Radio that a meal eaten in a pub in a ‘tier three’ area must be ‘substantial’ and ‘the sort of meal that you would expect to have as a midday meal or an evening meal’.

‘The test in law is that a substantial meal is the sort of meal that you would expect to have as a midday meal or an evening meal,’ he said. 

How Cornish pasties were developed as a lunch for tin miners

A Cornish pasty was designed as a substantial meal wrapped in pastry with a thick crimp that was not to be eaten.

This meant tin miners could take it as a lunch meal to have underground – and the poisonous metals on their fingers would get on the crimp that was then discarded, so they did not get ill.   

They were able to hold the pastry by the folded crust so the dirt did not touch the rest of their food, then discard that section afterwards.

Devon pasties tend to have a crimped crust running along the top and are oval in shape while Cornish pasties are semi-circular with a thicker crust running along the curved edge of the pasty.

The term ‘Cornish pasty’ was given protected status by the European Commission in 2011. It states that only pasties made in Cornwall from a traditional recipe can marketed as a ‘Cornish pasty’. 

‘It would be like a main course, rather than, say, a packet of crisps or a plate of chips.’

He added that many licence-holders would be familiar with the measures as they were similar to previous rules regarding minors.

Mr Jenrick was asked by presenter Nick Ferrari: ‘So a Cornish pasty or a sausage roll and a pub in Liverpool can stay in business?’

The Conservative politician said the test was whether it was ‘the sort of meal you would expect to have for lunch.’

He added: ‘If you would expect to go into that restaurant normally, or pub, and order a plated meal at the table of a Cornish pasty with chips or side salad or whatever it comes with, then that’s a normal meal. This isn’t actually as unusual a concept as you might feel.

‘We’ve had this in law for licence holders for a long time because it’s the same rule that has applied if you take a minor into a pub.

‘You can’t do so unless they have a substantial meal alongside the alcoholic drinks, so people who actually run pubs and bars will be familiar with this and know how to operate it.’

The official guidance regarding food service also states that ‘a table meal is a meal eaten by a person seated at a table, or at a counter or other structure which serves the purposes of a table’.

Earlier, speaking to Sky News, Mr Jenrick said: ‘A substantial meal means the kind of meal that you’d have for lunch or the kind of meal you’d have for dinner – a proper meal. It doesn’t mean a packet of crisps or a plate of chips or a bag of pork scratchings.’ 

A ‘tier three’ will be applied to the Liverpool City Region, resulting in the closure of its bars and pubs, unless they serve food and alcohol as part of a sit-down meal.

The BBPA said there were about 970 pubs in the areas affected by the lockdown.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ‘Singling out pubs for closure and further restrictions is simply the wrong decision and grossly unfair.

What does the law say about pubs serving a ‘substantial meal’?

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020

Requirement to close businesses selling alcohol for consumption on the premises 16.

  • (1) A person responsible for carrying on a business of a public house, bar or other business involving the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises must cease to carry on that business, unless paragraph (2) applies. 
  • (2) This paragraph applies if alcohol is only served for consumption on the premises as part of a table meal, and the meal is such as might be expected to be served as the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at either such meal. 
  • (3) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)— 
  • (a) alcohol sold by a hotel or other accommodation as part of room service is not to be treated as being sold for consumption on its premises; 
  • (b) an area adjacent to the premises of the business where seating is made available for customers of the business (whether or not by the business), or where customers gather to drink outside the business, is to be treated as part of the premises of that business. 
  • (4) For the purposes of this paragraph, a ‘table meal’ is a meal eaten by a person seated at a table, or at a counter or other structure which serves the purposes of a table and is not used for the service of refreshments for consumption by persons not seated at a table or structure serving the purposes of a table. 

‘It’s why we are calling for a proportionate response to the virus based on tangible transmission evidence.

‘Public Health England figures released on Friday show hospitality was responsible for just 3 per cent of total transmissions.

‘Where is the merit in closing pubs to combat the virus based on that information? Especially when they are providing a safe and regulated place for people to meet at.’

She said the restrictions would ‘devastate’ the sector, claiming that ‘thousands’ of local pubs and jobs ‘will be lost for good’. 

Conservative MP Alec Shelbroke, for Elmet and Rothwell in West Yorkshire, told MailOnline today: ‘I am going to ask the Chancellor about this. 

‘A lot of the pubs in our area are open but they are getting no custom. You need to extend the grant down from tier three to two – that’s what I am going to be asking.’ 

Drinkers in Liverpool yesterday complained that the city was being unfairly singled out.

Marty Hand, 60, said: ‘The whole economy is going to suffer because of it and I think Boris Johnson has been totally against the North West area.

‘Everyone in Liverpool is hurt and we feel like scapegoats. This is going back to the 1980s.’

Michael White, 70, added: ‘The furlough pay now is two thirds, if this was happening in London it wouldn’t be. It’s one law for them and one law for us.’

Meanwhile, leaders in the night-time economy have launched a legal challenge over the impending lockdown rules.

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said lawyers have been instructed to seek a judicial review into any further restrictions on hospitality and entertainment venues across the North of England.

Trade body The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said the measures have ‘no scientific rationale’ and could have a ‘catastrophic impact’ on late-night businesses.

Mr Lord, co-creator of the Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, who is leading the legal action, said leaders in Greater Manchester have not seen ‘any tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure’ of venues in the area. 

A television shows Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking from 10 Downing Street in London, as customers sit at the bar inside the William Gladstone pub in Liverpool yesterday evening

A television shows Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking from 10 Downing Street in London, as customers sit at the bar inside the William Gladstone pub in Liverpool yesterday evening

‘Despite discussions and ongoing calls for data, we have not yet been shown any tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure of the hospitality and entertainment sectors across Greater Manchester,’ he said.

How England breaks down in new COVID tiers 

TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK

Liverpool City Region 

Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton 

TIER TWO – HIGH RISK 

Cheshire 

Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East 

Greater Manchester 

Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, 

Warrington

Derbyshire 

High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North 

Lancashire 

Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley 

West Yorkshire

Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South

Yorkshire

Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield 

North East 

Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland

Tees Valley 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool 

West Midlands

Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall

Leicester

Leicester, Oadby and Wigston 

Nottingham

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City

TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK

Rest of England 

‘We have therefore been left with little choice but to escalate the matter further.’

Meanwhile hospitality bosses have warned of a lack of support for businesses in tiers one and two, which will still face major restrictions including the damaging 10pm curfew.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘The impact of all of these restrictions is huge and we are quickly reaching the point of no return for many businesses.

‘For those businesses in tier three areas, forced to close their doors again, things look bleak but the support announced last week for closed businesses will hopefully give them the breathing room they need to survive another lockdown.

‘There is currently a concerning lack of support on offer for hospitality businesses in tier two, and to a lesser extent tier one, despite their facing restrictions that is seeing trade down by between 40 to 60 per cent.

‘They will have the worst of both worlds, operating under significant restrictions without the financial support on offer to tier three businesses. Without enhanced grant support and enhanced Government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many are going to fall by the wayside.’

She added that the Government should ‘at the very least’ rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew in areas where Covid rates are low, adding that it was ‘imposed without credible evidence that hospitality is the source of increases in transmission, while some evidence points the other way’.

Ms Nicholls continued: ‘To leave hospitality out to dry would be a grave and risky move and would cost many people their jobs.’

The Prime Minister yesterday defended restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector, stating that similar measures have been introduced elsewhere in Europe.

Boris Johnson said that the UK Government was not an ‘outlier’ in its decision to limit people’s time in bars and pubs to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking about restrictions on pubs. Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: ‘We are not an outlier in this, in the sense that I think they’ve closed the bars in Paris.

‘And in Berlin they’ve got the first curfew since 1949, so across Europe and elsewhere you can see people tackling this in very similar ways.’

Also yesterday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden made clear that the Government will resist any legal challenge to closures of pubs and restaurants.

‘I think they will find that if they challenge the Government we do have robust evidence for doing this,’ he told Sky News.

‘The evidence shows that there is a higher risk of transmissions in hospitality settings. There is academic evidence from the United States.’

We’ve been sold down the river: Liverpool landladies fear for survival of their pubs 

Bar owners in Liverpool spoke of their devastation last night as the city became England’s first ‘tier three’ Covid zone.

It means pubs not serving food must shut from tomorrow under the new local lockdown rules. Paula Smith, who runs The Dog House off the city’s famous Penny Lane, was in tears as she told of her fears for her livelihood.

She said she could not expect her employer to pay 100 per cent of her wages again, as happened when the pub had to close in March. Miss Smith told BBC News: ‘It’s just a bit worrying. It’s not fair to put it all on the employer. It’s not fair.’

In tears: Paula Smith, who runs The Dog House in Liverpool, fears for her job

In tears: Paula Smith, who runs The Dog House in Liverpool, fears for her job 

The owner, Paul White, said the new Government grant scheme for venues forced to close would pay around £500.

‘My fixed costs are £2,500 a week, whether we’re trading or not,’ he said.

At The Grapes – where The Beatles used to drink while playing the nearby Cavern Club in the early 1960s – staff watched in horror as Boris Johnson announced on TV the closure of the city’s pubs. Manager Karen Strickland said: ‘We’re all absolutely heartbroken. We feel the mayor and the MPs have sold us down the river by going along with this.

‘Now the likes of our little pub have got to close down, and it’s disgusting.

‘Where’s the evidence behind closing pubs? My pub is immaculate, we’ve got sanitising stations and track and trace, we all wear masks.

‘If it’s so bad in pubs, why are they not closing until Wednesday? It doesn’t make any sense. Now we’re in the top tier, what will it take for us to get out of it? We could be shut for six months. How can my staff survive on two-thirds of their wages? They’ve got rent to pay, mouths to feed, Christmas is coming up.

Karen Strickland at The Grapes in Liverpool

Karen Strickland at The Grapes in Liverpool

‘Apparently Wetherspoons can stay open because they serve food. I don’t see the logic – what difference does that make? I’m devastated.’

Catherine Soithongsuk, 64, a customer at the newly refurbished pub, was equally horrified.

‘I feel so safe here,’ she said. ‘I had to put on a mask before I came in, I had to give my details and sanitise my hands. Why is it only Merseyside that’s being singled out for these restrictions? I feel Liverpool is being discriminated against.

‘We all need to learn to live with this virus, we need to use common sense, wash our hands and keep our distance from other people.

‘If people want to go to the pub then that should be fine. Once they’re closed, people will just go to house parties instead.

‘How’s that safer? There will be 25 or 30 people in one room.’



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Graffiti artists WILL receive $6.7million payout from landlords


Graffiti artists will receive a $6.7million payout from developers who painted over their work in New York after the Supreme Court ended a seven-year legal battle.

The artworks on the walls of old warehouse buildings in Queens became a ‘graffiti mecca’ known as 5Pointz, but they were painted over in 2013 and the building destroyed to make room for high-rise luxury residences. 

Two years ago, a federal court awarded the damages after ruling that the destruction had violated the Visual Artists Rights Act, which protects art that has gained recognition. 

The decision was upheld by an appeals court in February, and the Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear the case – leaving the landlords with nowhere else to turn. 

The 5Pointz site in Queens (pictured before its destruction) became a ‘graffiti mecca’ before it was painted over and destroyed by developers seven years ago  

Before and after: Graffiti at 5Pointz in New York in 2013 (bottom) before it was painted over by developers (top)

Before and after: Graffiti at 5Pointz in New York in 2013 (bottom) before it was painted over by developers (top)

Eric Baum, a lawyer for the artists, told the New York Times that the decision ‘furthers the idea that street art is to be cherished and protected, not destroyed. 

‘The significance of this decision is that federal law now protects not only artwork exhibited in MoMA or the Louvre but also public murals, created with permission,’ he said. 

Scott Gant, an attorney for the developers, said they were ‘disappointed’ by the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case. 

The landlords had argued that the Visual Rights Act’s definition of an artwork with ‘recognized stature’ was ‘unconstitutionally vague’.  

The damages were awarded to nearly two dozen graffiti artists whose spray-paintings once attracted thousands of spectators a day. 

Since 2002, walls at the 5Pointz site had contained over 10,000 works of art because some were temporary and eventually painted over with the permission of the artists. 

The graffiti site in Long Island City also formed a backdrop to the 2013 movie Now You See Me and was the site of a tour by the singer Usher. 

The artists sued the owner of the site under the 1990 Act, which protects artists’ rights even if somebody else owns the physical artwork. 

The graffiti was painted over in 2013, and the buildings were torn down a year later as developers sought to capitalize on the rebirth of a once crime-ridden area.   

High-rise apartment blocks under construction in 2018 on the premises where the 5Pointz warehouse buildings used to stand

High-rise apartment blocks under construction in 2018 on the premises where the 5Pointz warehouse buildings used to stand   

The spray paintings by 21 artists were 'wrongfully and willfully' destroyed, according to a federal judge who awarded them a $6.7million payout

The spray paintings by 21 artists were ‘wrongfully and willfully’ destroyed, according to a federal judge who awarded them a $6.7million payout 

Ruling in the artists’ favor in 2018, US district judge Frederic Block said the artworks were ‘wrongfully and wilfully destroyed’. 

Block found that 45 of the 49 paintings were recognized works of art in what became the ‘world’s largest collection of quality outdoor aerosol art’.   

The judge said the ‘respectful, articulate and credible’ artists had testified about ‘striking technical and artistic mastery and vision worthy of display in prominent museums if not on the walls of 5Pointz.’

He said he was impressed with the breadth of the artists’ works and how many works ‘spoke to the social issues of our times.’ 

One of the artists came from London, another from rural West Virginia, while others were products of prestigious art schools.  

Jerry Wolkoff, who owned the buildings, had conceded that he allowed the spray-paint artists to use the buildings as a canvas, but said they always knew they would be torn down someday.  

The artists had once hoped to buy the properties, before their value soared to over $200million.

The judge said Wolkoff, who died in July this year, should have waited to demolish the paintings for at least 10 months when he had all his permits.  

Artists then could have easily rescued some paintings from siding, plywood or sheet-rock before the rollers, spray machines and buckets of white paint arrived.

The warehouses were demolished in 2014 to make way for luxury apartment blocks

The warehouses were demolished in 2014 to make way for luxury apartment blocks

The historic graffiti mecca 5 Pointz is seen after being painted over by developers in 2013

The historic graffiti mecca 5 Pointz is seen after being painted over by developers in 2013

‘Wolkoff has been singularly unrepentant. He was given multiple opportunities to admit the whitewashing was a mistake, show remorse, or suggest he would do things differently if he had another chance,’ Block said.  

‘The sloppy, half-hearted nature of the whitewashing left the works easily visible under thin layers of cheap, white paint, reminding the plaintiffs on a daily basis what had happened.’

The developers challenged the decision, but the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals gave its approval to Block’s ruling in February this year. 

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals said the lower court was correct to award the damages.   

‘In recent years, street art, much of which is temporary, has emerged as a major category of contemporary art,’ wrote circuit judge Barrington D. Parker.

The decision referred to the anonymous Banksy, who has appeared on Time’s list of the world’s 100 most influential alongside Barack Obama and Steve Jobs.   

‘A Banksy painting at 5Pointz would have possessed recognized stature, even if it were temporary,’ the appeals court said.  

Marie Cecile Flageul, a curator who worked with the 21 artists who will share the award, said at the time that the ruling demonstrated how far graffiti has come from the 1970s when many artists used it to express their anger.

‘Now, it’s a validated art form which is collected, acquired and showcased in museums and galleries around the world,’ she said.

She said real estate entities in New York, Paris and London now look for ways to preserve graffiti art.

Flageul said artists in the United States, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Colombia will share the award.



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