St Albans pubs face closure crisis over coronovirus strategy

The Save St Albans Pubs campaign outside The Boot in St Albans. Local pubs face an unprecedented cri

The Save St Albans Pubs campaign outside The Boot in St Albans. Local pubs face an unprecedented crisis because of coronavirus. Picture: Save St Albans Pubs - Credit: Archant

The future of St Albans’ pubs is hanging on a thread after the government urged people to stop visiting them.

Campaign group Save St Albans Pubs, which has been fighting against high business rates for the past few years, has accused Boris Johnson’s administration of being completely irresponsible in its handling of the crisis.

It condemns the lack of clear information about future strategy, and a timeframe in which to implement alternative trading practices.

And because the PM has failed to instruct pubs to close, they are unable to claim under business interruption insurance or handle any compulsory employee pay.

The campaign’s vice chair Mandy McNeil said: “Noone understands more than the pubs, the need to balance health and safety and for community to pull together – that’s a community pub’s manifesto. We understand the need for social distancing. The message from this Government however is not helpful.

“This government has also been aware of this looming crisis for several weeks, yet has failed to act with any foresight and leadership to provide pubs with the necessary information and financial support to be able to voluntarily shut down and weather this storm.”

The group is now calling on the government to provide immediate financial support, a business rate holiday, and a rent/mortgage holiday.

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“Our community is entering into a time of uncertainty and isolation and it is at times like this that our pubs shine. The government may lack the foresight to see the role that pubs can pay in helping to provide meals for the elderly, the homeless, the sick and the vulnerable, or for those that will be working from home, but we know that our St Albans community values their pubs and our pubs have offered to look after the elderly and deliver food to the sick.

“Pub staff are like family and we are lobbying local council, our MP and our government to provide immediate working capital for three months so our pubs can afford to pay their staff, and also to be able pay their own mortgages and look after their own families.

“And we are asking you, our community, to do everything you can do to support your local at this time. Call up your local, order take away and pick it up or let them deliver it to you. Buy a gift card so that when this is over, in summer and the sun is shining, you can go out to your favourite local pub, they will still be there and there will be a drink with your name on it.”