Bars and restaurants should stay shut until May, researchers have suggested, as they warned that reopening society too quickly could have a “disastrous” effect.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said pubs across the UK will be lost for good if they cannot reopen until May amid the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown.
Her comments follow news of researchers suggesting the premature opening of the hospitality sector would lead to an increase in Covid-19 cases.
A team of experts modelling the pandemic said that even if 90% of people are vaccinated against coronavirus, 10% would still be at risk of serious infection.
They argued that little is currently known about the effect of vaccines on transmission and if younger people catch coronavirus – they would be at risk of long Covid.
She said: “UK pubs will be screaming ‘mayday’ long before a May reopening without significantly more financial support from Government.
“Sadly, these rumours are another example of the unfair targeting of pubs and have no thought for hardworking publicans and communities across the country who fear the loss of their homes, livelihoods and heart of their communities.
“The Government has a duty to tell publicans when it plans to let them reopen with a clear roadmap alongside the vaccination programme.
“If it won’t be until May then it needs to extend financial support for them to survive and to brewers whose businesses also face jeopardy.”
It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS is vaccinating people against Covid-19 at the rate of 200 jabs every minute.
He told MPs the UK has now given more than five million doses of coronavirus vaccines to 4.6 million people.