THERE will be just 732 pubs out of 38,277 in England where drinkers can meet a pal inside when they reopen this week, The Sun can reveal.
And in a second blow for drinkers, brewers have warned: “There won’t be any beer for Christmas.”
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Those Tier 1 pubs where pals can meet up still face rule of six curbs indoors, with table service only.
British Beer and Pub Association stats show the tiny number spared the curbs of the toughest two tiers.
But Richard Bailey, chief executive of Thwaites Brewery, told The Sun: “Even that’s hardly freedom.”
And he warns his 200-year-old brewery in Blackburn, one of the oldest in the North West, is among many across the nation still shut after lockdown — prompting the fear of an ale shortage over Christmas.
It comes as rebel Tory MPs say they want a second vote in the New Year on the return of the latest tier system to replace the second Covid lockdown from Wednesday.
One, Nus Ghani, a member of the Covid Recovery Group, told The Sun: “MPs must not be kept in the dark and these restrictions must only last for four weeks.
‘WE’RE DOING ALL WE CAN’
“There must be another vote in early January because I refuse to lock my constituency into such severe restrictions and throw away the key for two whole months.”
The rebels warn up to 70 of them will vote against the new tiers when they come to Parliament tomorrow.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday warned Britain risked being hit by a third wave of coronavirus if the tiers system failed.
He said there needed to be a balance but could not rule out a third national lockdown if the tougher tiers do not work, adding: “We’re doing all we can to avoid it.”
Over the weekend, PM Boris Johnson attempted to quell the rebellious members of the CRG in a letter setting out how he has met all their demands.
He said he would provide them with more data, test more symptomatic people and boost local authority Covid contact tracing.
Downing Street said it was aware how hard it was for the hospitality industry but added it had prioritised work and schools as “absolutely essential”.
It said pubs, bars and restaurants “intrinsically carry higher risk”.
In the letter to angry MPs, the PM said: “I do believe that the strategy set out is a balanced approach, which helps protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, keeps children attending school, and lets the economy open up in a safe way, and the best way forward.”
But Thwaites chief Mr Bailey is among dozens of hospitality bosses who have warned Mr Johnson will be responsible for the end of thousands of community pubs.
He said 182 of his brewery’s 220 pubs were shut and would not be able to support themselves.
In a fierce attack on the PM, he said: “Usually when the captain of the ship drives on to the rocks it’s because of fog or he’s asleep on watch, but the Government is wide awake.
“They’ve got their hands on the wheel but are driving the hospitality industry purposefully on the rocks.”
‘I refuse to lock my constituency into such severe restrictions’
By Nus Ghani – Tory MP and member of the Covid Recovery Group
Ninety nine per cent of the country has ended up in Tiers 2 and 3, so it doesn’t feel like an end to lockdown.
70 of us wrote to the Prime Minister last weekend, asking for the evidence which shows that the Tier restrictions will save more lives than they cost.
We must start paying attention to other lethal killers like cancer, dementia and heart disease, mental wellbeing, the health implications of poverty and the Chancellor’s warning that unemployment will rise to 2.6 million people next year. If we shatter our economy we won’t be able to pay for vital public services like the NHS.
I am yet to see any data on the impact these restrictions are going to have. I can’t support imposing this sort of regime on my constituency without seeing it today, ahead of tomorrow’s vote.
MPs must not be kept in the dark and these restrictions must only last for four weeks. There must be another vote in early January because I refuse to lock my constituency into such severe restrictions and throw away the key for two whole months.
As I deliver the news to the villages and market towns of Wealden on their new tier status, I cannot explain the reason for it or the costs, and can’t demonstrate that there’s any hope of moving down the tiers or getting out of them altogether.
Covid is a terrible illness, and the government is right to do everything in its power to stop it. Like many across the country, I too have lost loved ones to this deadly disease.
But I’m yet to see an enduring strategy for living with the virus that can command mine and the public’s support.
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Manchester mayor Andy Burnham called for cross-party support from his region’s 27 MPs to demand more Tier 3 money. His hopes that local restrictions could ease were raised last night when a study showed case rates in the North had halved.
Meanwhile, the PM announced a £20million medicine manufacturing boost in case of future pandemics.
The Sun says
FACED with a backbench revolt against the Government’s draconian Tier system, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday warned of a possible third national lockdown if we don’t “get the balance right”.
Well, there are huge swathes of the country where people would hardly notice, since they will this week move from Lockdown 2 into tiers that are virtually lockdown by another name.
As we reveal today, just a tiny fraction of the 37,000 pubs in England will be able to open as usual.
Even if some regions are shifted from Tier 3 to Tier 2 after the first review on December 16, it will be too late for the vital Christmas season.
The hospitality industry, and the pubs at the heart of our communities and our way of life, face ruin with many thousands of jobs lost.
We don’t envy Boris Johnson the choices he has but, given the terrible damage the restrictions do, he must look to reduce them as soon as possible, especially in areas with low infection rates which have been unfairly lumped into Tier 2.
And he must give MPs the opportunity to vote again on the restrictions early in the New Year, not wait two months.
That is getting the balance right.
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