Lockdown delay is a 'huge blow' for Sheffield hospitality as new figures reveal impact of Covid-19 on pubs

A delay in easing the final stage of lockdown is a ‘huge blow’ for hospitality in Sheffield, a pub owner has said, as new figures show the true impact Covid-19 is still having on the industry.

The Beer House micropub on Ecclesall Road, which was the first micropub in Sheffield. Pictured is owner John Harrison.
The Beer House micropub on Ecclesall Road, which was the first micropub in Sheffield. Pictured is owner John Harrison.

Monday’s announcement that ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21 would be pushed back to July 19 means pubs, restaurants and cinemas remain under restrictions including capacity limits, while nightclubs cannot open and some events cannot go ahead.

New figures from the Office of National Statistics show only 20 per cent of pubs had confidence in surviving the pandemic, compared to 44 per cent of all businesses in April, when pub gardens were able to reopen.

More than 55 per cent of pub staff were also still furloughed, compared to eight per cent of all workers, and 33 per cent of pubs said profits were down by more than a half compared with only nine per cent of all businesses.

The Leadmill has postponed its opening week

John Harrison, co-owner of The Beerhouse micropub on Ecclesall Road, said: “The news of a further delay is a huge blow to the hospitality industry, hamstrung since reopening after a long period of forced closure, many operators have little to no reserves.

" There has been little to no bounce back yet due to the restrictions and fear that has been propagated in the media and from the Government around entertainment and hospitality, and these delays to further reopening of our economy will see many pubs, bars and restaurants give up the ghost and call it a day.”

He said everyone understood the need for minimising deaths, but the Government’s failure to close borders to the Delta variant from India had ‘cost us and our freedoms dearly.’

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh also warned a ‘perfect storm’ is brewing for local music and hospitality venues affected by the decision as in the next month quarterly rent is due, the ban on commercial rent evictions ends, employers must start contributing to furlough costs, and business rates relief tapers off.

Tank nightclub, on Arundel Gate, Sheffield.

Ms Haigh said: “They (local music and hospitality venures) are part of the rich fabric of our city, yet many are now living in fear that support will be pulled away just when they need it most.

“It is right we remain guided by the science to tackle this virus, but businesses must not pay the price for the Government's mishandling of the borders and the new variant.

“Ministers need to do whatever it takes to ensure these brilliant, much-loved venues are still here when the crisis is over.”

The Leadmill nightclub has postponed its opening week until further notice after the announcement, saying it was ‘gutted.’

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh. Picture Scott Merrylees

And the owners of Tank Nightclub, on Arundel Gate, in the city centre, said they were left ‘angry’, ‘confused’ and ‘heartbroken’ by the latest announcement, but vowed ‘we will rave again very soon’ in a post online.