Sheffield brewer speaks out on how pubs could operate in the city after lockdown
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Kane Yeardley, of the True North Brew Co, fears pubs will have to remove half their tables to meet distancing rules, which will halve takings or worse.
He is suggesting landlords be allowed to divide their premises and let punters decide which level of distancing they prefer.
Polling suggests a third of people would be prepared to go back into a pub before a coronavirus vaccine is developed, he said, posing a huge problem businesses.
True North owns several venues including The Common Room, Forum Café Bar and The Old House on Division Street in the city centre.
He added: “It’s all about choice, it just needs to be managed well.”
Mr Yeardley is also campaigning to #RaiseTheBar to extend £25,000 grants to larger premises in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector, from £51,000 rateable value to £150,000.
Another brewery boss, Alex Barlow, called for a beer duty holiday.
The “burdensome” tax is paid on each litre of beer produced and based on alcoholic strength.
Mr Barlow, of Triple Point Brewery and Bar on Shoreham Street, said UK duty was one of the highest in Europe.
The company has closed its bar, furloughed some staff and is taking online orders for beer deliveries across the country.
He said: “The support grants buy us some time. But pubs will be one of the last to open. We need a period of leave on duty to give the industry a fighting chance.”
The Star raised beer duty and #RaiseTheBar with health secretary Matt Hancock at a Number 10 briefing. Mr Hancock said he would ask the Chancellor.
Sheffield has the highest number of breweries per head in the country, some 35, and a total of 60 in the wider region, Mr Barlow said.
They were enjoying a ‘golden age’ before lockdown, he added.
“The vast majority of beer sold now is in supermarkets which many small brewers don’t have access to.
“And switching to off-sales as some, including us, have done is just a drop in the ocean.”