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More than 5,000 pubs closed before second lockdown 'could stay shut forever'

More than 5,000 pubs which closed their doors at the start of the second lockdown could remain closed forever, experts have said.

New research found that 30% of Britain’s pubs – around 12,000 sites – had already stopped trading by the end of October. This compares to just 20% in the same position at the end of September.

The data covers the weeks before the second lockdown was rolled out, but takes into account the Government’s tiered system – which forced venues to shut in the areas under the tightest restrictions.

Although the majority of pubs will be able to reopen once rules are relaxed, analysts CGA and AlixPartners estimated that around 5,160 will not.

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Sunny Hodge, owner and founder of Diogenes the Dog, a wine bar and shop in Elephant and Castle, London told Metro.co.uk that, when the first lockdown was announced, he ‘seriously questioned whether [the bar] could stay afloat’.

To keep the business alive, the wine bar adapted to also become a shop, selling alcohol, bread, meats and cheeses.

Mr Hodge said he believed the second lockdown will hit hospitality businesses even harder than the first. He said: ‘For bars and restaurants, even the ones that stay open, it’s much more of a graft than the first [lockdown] to make it vaguely successful as a business.

‘All of my friend group are restaurant operators or bar operators in London, and all of them are struggling in many ways, there’s few people I know that are doing well.’

Only half of pubs in England’s Tier 3 areas were still open at the end of October, as they could provide ‘substantial meals’ required by the rules, according to CGA’s regular Market Recovery Monitor.

The Bar With No Name in Islington, London, closed at the start of the second lockdown and plans to reopen again when the rules are eased.

Bar manager, Dominik Smajda, said pubs could struggle if opening hours are still restricted when the lockdown ends.

He said: ‘If there are any restrictions after the reopening, that would be difficult for us.’

Karl Chessell, CGA’s director of food and retail, thinks that more support will be needed to ‘prevent a wave of permanent closures over the winter’, with business levels in hospitality unlikely to return to those seen in the summer for a long time.

Heads & Tails in West Hampstead, London is one of the many bars that is staying open during the second lockdown by providing a delivery service.

Chris Dennis, co-owner of the cocktail bar, admits that ‘there’s always a chance that we might not be able to bounce back, but we’re doing everything in our power to keep revenue streams in place and keep up to date with our rent and expenses’.

‘I know other owners across London that are not going to be able to reopen,’ he said.

‘Anyone that says this wont affect venues like ours, I think, is naïve to the complexities that it takes to run a venue like this. It’s a case of us kind of fighting and batting down the hatches.’

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