JUST 732 pubs out of 38,277 in England will be able to reopen this week with fewest restrictions, as brewers warn: “There won’t be any beer for Christmas.”
And those Tier 1 boozers still face rule of six measures indoors, with landlords able to offer only table service.
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 HOAR: “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 in place of the second Covid lockdown from Wednesday.
One, Nus Ghani, a member of the Covid Recovery Group, told HOAR: “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.”
They warn up to 70 Tory rebels 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 Richard Bailey is among dozens of hospitality bosses who have warned that 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 scathing 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 at the moment the Government is wide awake.
“They’ve got their hands on the wheel of the ship but they are driving the hospitality industry purposefully on the rocks.”