30th November 2020
- AGCs – Following the straw poll of members on Friday members were split in their views as to whether opening under the same conditions as bookmakers was commercially viable. In the end we did lobby over the weekend to get AGCs open under Tier 3. Whatever the commercial merits there was and is value in making a loud case now for the sector – it helps with future lobbying irrespective of the outcome in this particular case. Contact with senior civil servants and No10 have resulted today in a refusal to permit this under the conditions we agreed to implement. In another shift of the goal posts, the line of argument is now principally that AGCs (and FECs) are entertainment venues and not non-essential retail. We will continue to make the case through political channels and we have written to numerous MPs, not least those on the Covid Reform Group that have been making a nuisance of themselves and extracted some concessions from the Government. This is unlikely to shift the position but it again is important for our future lobbying work.
- Suppliers – the situation with pubs is dire. The hospitality sector generally is fighting back hard but the restrictions seem to be harsh as well as unnecessary. The Government’s evidence published last week that hospitality presented an elevated risk was almost laughable it was so weak. Furthermore, the requirement for pubs in Tier 2 areas to provide a substantial meal area already being widely expanded in practice. A Minister today for example confirmed that a Scotch Egg constituted a meal (as opposed to a bar snack). Personally I shall be ordering several pints with my food in my local and I may find myself unable to eat my meal! We are meeting with pub operators on Wednesday to discuss the situation and to find out how the hospitality sector is planning to react to the latest Tiered lockdown. Whilst the new 11.00 pm. curfew is helpful, what we really need is to get the requirement for a meal removed so that wet-led pubs can also open.
The next review is on 11th December. As mentioned last week, we met with the SG on Thursday to once again make our points on music in pubs, Arcades opening in Level 3 areas and rates relief of 21/22. We will follow up this week.
- First Minister, Mark Drakeford, confirmed today that pubs will have to close at 6.00 p.m. from Friday and will not be permitted to sell alcohol. They can provide a takeaway service after 6.00 p.m. In addition it was confirmed that amusement arcades and other indoor entertainment venues will have to close.
- Whilst details are yet to be published, the FM also announced additional support for businesses affected including a fund dedicated to the hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses. South Wales Regional Chairman, Richard Case, has already written to the WG and others to again make the point that heretofore AGCs have not been allowed to access that support and should be able to do so. I am not expecting a change of position but we will do all we can to get these people to recognise they are killing viable welsh business and welsh jobs. Words cannot begin to describe my views of what is going on.
- Interestingly the announcement did reference support for hospitality, tourism and leisure supply chains.