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Share Price: 1,166.00
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English pub payment plan draws scorn from landlords

Tue, 1st Dec 2020 16:25

* Johnson says pubs that don't serve food to receive 1,000
pounds

* Labour says payment "small beer" during peak Christmas
season

* System triggers debate on status of Scotch Egg

By Paul Sandle and Alistair Smout

LONDON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The British government will make a
one-off payment of 1,000 pounds ($1,335) to pubs that cannot
open due to coronavirus restrictions, but industry leaders said
it will not be enough to save many establishments, a treasured
part of the national heritage.

Nearly 60% of England will be under Tier 2 restrictions when
a national lockdown lifts on Wednesday. Under these, pubs can
only serve alcohol with a substantial meal, effectively keeping
those that do not serve food in lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that pubs in England
that do not serve food would receive the payment in December in
recognition of the hit they will take in what is usually their
busiest month.

Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party,
described the 1,000 pound payment as "the definition of small
beer". Hospitality sector leaders were also critical.

"It’s outrageous you can have a pint in a theatre, concert
hall, cinema or sports ground without a substantial meal, but
not the pub. It is a slap in the face of pubs and brewers," said
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub
Association.

"If the Government isn't going to do this, then it must
provide far greater support."

Chairman of pub chain JD Wetherspoon Tim Martin said that
with nearly all of England in Tier 2 or the tougher Tier 3,
which only allows takeaway food, the system effectively closed
all pubs in England.

Nearly 21,000 pubs which will be under Tier 2, figures from
real estate adviser Altus Group said. It did not say how many of
the pubs were so-called "wet" pubs.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said that
the system would make nine out of 10 hospitality businesses
unviable by the new year.

"A one-off payment of 1,000 pounds for pubs forced to close
does not even count as a token gesture," she said.

The rules have sparked confusion over what constitutes a
substantial meal, with attention focused on the status of the
Scotch Egg - a delicacy consisting of an egg wrapped in meat and
breadcrumbs.

After some debate over whether it was a meal, a starter or a
bar snack, senior minister Michael Gove said told ITV it was a
substantial meal and said "I myself would definitely scoff a
couple of Scotch Eggs if I had the chance".

He had earlier told LBC radio that a "couple of Scotch Eggs
is a starter, as far as I'm concerned".

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own rules on
coronavirus restrictions. Welsh pubs will not be able to serve
alcohol at all from Friday.
($1 = 0.75 pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle, Alistair Smout and William James;
Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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