Comment - Pandemic has given us a new love of pubs but can they survive Tier 3?

It is the hope that kills you. Sheffield landlords were hoping the city would go into Tier One after lockdown ends on Wednesday.
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And who can blame them after the year they’ve had?

But Tier 3 is what we’ve got and that means all pubs and restaurants must remain closed, including those serving a ‘substantial meal’.

It’s common for a pub to make 40 per cent of its money in December. This decision will kill some that had been hanging on through lockdown.

Shops can reopen after lockdown but Christmas is cancelled for pubs.Shops can reopen after lockdown but Christmas is cancelled for pubs.
Shops can reopen after lockdown but Christmas is cancelled for pubs.
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That loss is not something we take lightly. Sheffield is being changed forever by the virus and closures will devastate lives and add to unemployment numbers not predicted to peak until April.

Some venues are just about surviving through a combination of furlough, Tier 3 grants, a business rates holiday and borrowing to pay bills and rent.

But after so long, reserves have been spent and they are hanging on by their fingernails.

In many cases it is only a bloody minded refusal to quit that is keeping them alive.

The Star Business Editor David Walsh.The Star Business Editor David Walsh.
The Star Business Editor David Walsh.
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It’s the same with independent retailers and market stall holders, giving up is not in their vocabulary. And yesterday they got the news they had longed for - permission to reopen.

At the same time, the pandemic has sparked an outpouring of love for these small, local businesses who have suffered so much.

There is a new appreciation not just for what they sell and the jobs they make, but the way they create a community - familiar, friendly faces - at at time when human contact and a sense of belonging have never been more important.

Like all of us, they are hoping for some relief around Easter, when we’re told a vaccine could start to be rolled out and better weather will mean more time outside, which should cut transmission rates.

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Former business secretary Andrea Leadsom said she expects the economy to bounce back much faster than after the global financial crash of 2008.

The new system will be reviewed every two weeks so Tier Three might not last for long. And massive improvements to the test and trace system might be just around the corner. We can but hope.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to hang on a bit longer.

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