With a ban on takeaway alcohol sales imposed on the English hospitality sector, CAMRA is urging the government to save pubs by letting them trade as off-licences.
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has launched a bid to give struggling pubs some much needed money through the tills by allowing them to be able to sell beer and cider in sealed containers for people to take away and enjoy at home.
The lockdown rules mean that whilst shops can continue to sell alcohol to take away, pubs can only do so via home delivery and not through a collection service as in previous lockdowns.
The campaign was raised in the House of Commons during yesterday’s emergency debate on the new lockdown restrictions in England, with MP for Stroud Siobhan Baillie asking the Government to look at the rules on the sale of takeaway alcohol as “it is not fair to stop this activity when supermarkets and off-licences can sell regardless”.
Commenting, CAMRA’s national chairman Nik Antona said: “It is absolutely unfair that whilst big supermarkets can continue to sell alcohol, our struggling local pubs in England can’t act as an off licence too.
“This was a real lifeline for many pubs during previous lockdowns and is desperately needed again now, with landlords up and down the country struggling to make ends meet after months of closures, curfews and restrictions. Pubs are also the only place where people can get cask beer which is under threat due to months of forced pub closures, with some breweries stopping production.
“The least the Government can do is take a sensible approach, think again and allow community pubs to sell takeaway products. No-one wants to see drinking in the streets during a lockdown – but allowing pubs to sell alcohol in sealed containers for people to take home – just like shops do – would be completely reasonable.
“Without a change in these lockdown laws we risk seeing more locals going to the wall, traditional British cask ale under threat and people being forced into supermarkets instead of being allowed to support local businesses by buying beer from the pub to take home.”
According to CAMRA, over six thousand pub-goers have already flooded MPs’ inboxes to seek fair treatment for pubs and to protect cask beer during the third lockdown in England.
Db is also keen to know why the Government deems it acceptable for people to congregate outside a coffee shop with hot drinks but not near a pub with a pint – an unlikely scenario in any case considering the freezing temperatures in Britain at the moment.
As db reported yesterday, the ban on takeaway and click-and-collect alcohol sales from hospitality outlets in England will have a “brutal effect” on the on-trade.
Speaking to the drinks business, Alun Thomas, partner at London-based law firm Thomas & Thomas, said it was just another “kick in the shin for the on-trade”.
“The brutal effect of it is that is there’s less of a reason for those pubs that are staying open and not furloughing people to carry on doing takeaway,” he said. “Alcohol carries a higher gross profit than food alone.”