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Covid-19: City MP calls out failure to offer clarity to Portsmouth pubs

Representatives from local pubs have repeatedly informed the city MP that government vagueness on support and guidelines for the sector is threatening their businesses.

Today, during Business Questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP took action on local concerns by putting Ministers on the spot, demanding answers to the questions troubling Portsmouth’s pubs.

HospitalityUK, local boozers and sector representatives have said that a lack of clarity over whether 1 metre or 2 metre social distancing guidelines will be required is preventing pubs from putting in place preparations for reopening in just two weeks time.

Pubs and brewers have been working exceptionally hard to prepare for reopening in early July, however government missed its deadline yesterday for providing clarity over social distancing measures.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government instructed pubs to shut. Then, it gave them a potential date for reopening. What they have failed to do is provide any of the vital information that allows them to make this transition and have missed their own deadline for providing this information.

Do pubs need to operate a 1 or 2 metre rule? Will they require PPE? What safety measures do they need to implement? These are the questions preventing Portsmouth landladies and landlords from getting their businesses back on track.

Portsmouth’s thriving hospitality and pub scene creates jobs and is crucial to our local economy. This government’s vagueness is putting our city’s future at risk.”

Industry experts say that 1 in 4 pubs do not have enough space to reopen and comply with the 2m rule, while 82 % of those that could reopen would have to operate at less than half capacity.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the BBPA said:

“Our 47,000 pubs and 2,000 brewers are now in urgent need of a definitive date on when pubs can reopen.

We have consistently and clearly asked Government for at least three weeks’ notice to ensure our pubs can bring staff out of furlough, prepare and reconfigure themselves to adhere to safety guidelines, and ensure they have fresh draught beer ready to serve customers.

The deadline for notice the Government needed to give us to be ready to reopen on 4th July, as referenced in its own roadmap, passed on Saturday. As of today we have no finalised safety guidelines and no definitive date for reopening – we need both today if pubs are to reopen on 4th July. I am delighted to see MPs like Stephen Morgan ask these tough questions and stand up for British pubs.”

Today Mr Morgan demanded answers and tried to pin the Business Secretary down on a date for when guidance would be issued. Again, he failed to provide any clarity and refused to offer a firm timeline for when social distancing information would be passed on.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“We have learnt that more than 600,000 hardworking Britons have lost their jobs amid lockdown with those claiming work related benefits jumping to 23% in May.

This is indicative of the government’s current strategy which is to announce major policy changes that lack any detail or substance with unrealistically tight time frames. We have seen it with schools, dentists, and now hospitality.

The fact that Government missed its own deadline for issuing guidance and today failed to provide me with an answer in parliament is simply not good enough.

I will continue to shine a spotlight on where government must improve and ensure that Portsmouth businesses are heard.”

Stephen Morgan MP’s parliamentary actions today are part of string of measures he has put in place to support local business. He has met with sector representatives and HospitalityUK online, written twice to the Chancellor, applied pressure through written questions and is in the process of orchestrating a webinar for local businesses struggling under the weight of Covid-19.