Yesterday, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that the region’s leaders “unanimously reject” a Tier 3 lockdown that he says is “flawed and unfair”.
And today, some of the region’s biggest breweries have issued a joint statement saying that the current government policy to “single out pubs for closure in Tier 3 with inadequate support is a national disgrace”.
The Government is urging north west leaders to back a move to increase the COVID-19 alert level in Greater Manchester and Lancashire from Tier 2, high, to Tier 3, very high, which would mean many pubs and bars must shut and all household mixing indoors and outdoors would be banned.
But the directors of breweries Joseph Holt of Manchester, Hydes of Manchester, JW Lees of Manchester, Frederic Robinson of Stockport and Thwaites of Blackburn have said they all stand by Mr Burnham.
“Our breweries and pubs have been an integral part of Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire and the North West’s communities for hundreds of years – we are on the ground – we are not running our pubs in a theoretical intellectual and political bubble 200 miles away in Westminster,” says the joint statement published today.
“The current government policy to single out pubs for closure in Tier 3 with inadequate support is a national disgrace. It is clear, and the statistics show, that transmission of the coronavirus is happening in education, care homes, hospitals and the home.
“Already we have been trading with severe restrictions since 31st July in Greater Manchester but we feel that the government is now going too far and we stand by the stance that Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester, is taking that our pubs cannot be closed down in the manner proposed with Tier 3 restrictions and only very limited compensation.”
The statement says the government is “not able to produce any evidence that pubs or the hospitality sector is a significant factor in coronavirus transmission – because there is none.”
Since the start of July, the brewers say, “our 860 pubs, in Manchester and around the North West of England and North Wales, have had not one case where they have been contacted by Track and Trace as a result of linked virus cases in one of our pubs.
“Our pubs have had between 8-10 million visits since re-opening in July – we are aware informally of only 15-20 individuals who have been in touch with their pub in the days after visiting to say that they have contracted the virus. This equates to 0.25 people per 100,000 visits of pubgoers who might have or more likely did not contract the virus on a visit to a pub.
“Pubs are being victimised and made a scapegoat in a desperate political effort to be seen to do something – even though it is obvious it will not work as the real problem lies elsewhere.
“Victimising pubs for closure will destroy people’s businesses and employment, take away the homes of landlords and their families and cause community misery and financial ruin in the North of England and Wales.
“Shutting our pubs would be a deliberate political act of wilful economic destruction, visited upon the North for no gain.
“Our pubs have already been made COVID-secure and are safe and ready to play their part in their communities through the winter – Northerners should not agree that their economies, employment and communities are deliberately devastated by this Conservative government’s action.”