09 July 2020




It is with continued frustration that we are still without a reopening date for wet only pubs; despite the fact that England has already reopened, Scotland opens on the 15th July and ROI on the 20th July.


In our ongoing discussions with NI Government, it is our understanding that NI Government rates wet only pubs as the highest risk area- but with the same seated restrictions as restaurants and food-pubs (indoors) we believe they should now be open.


It is also possible that NI Government is delaying the announcement of a reopening date to monitor the current limited reopening of premises (indoor and outdoor) to see if they apply the necessary mitigations, especially social distancing which is still 2m unless mitigations are in place to reduce this to a minimum of 1m.


So far, the limited reopening has been reasonably successful, but as an industry we cannot be complacent as the virus is still in circulation.


The behaviour of those who are open will also determine the future of those yet to reopen, and indeed the entire industry if a second wave is attributed to our industry and we are required to lock down again.


Please ensure social distancing of 2m is always observed and only reduced to 1m (minimum) if you have put mitigating measures in place!


We are also anticipating further guidance on restrictions from NI Government in the coming days.





The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered a very positive financial statement (click here) in Parliament outlining a package of measures to support jobs across the UK (click here) and give businesses the confidence to retain and hire.


The Chancellor noted that tourism has been one of the worst affected sectors and recognised hospitality and tourism as vital parts of the economy and a pillar of social life.


Included in Mr Sunak’s announcement were the following measures:  


  • VAT rate reduction: The announcement of a 6-month reduction in the rate of VAT from 20% to 5% on tourism and hospitality-related activities. The reduction will come into force from 15 July 2020 and remain until 12 January 2021. Further guidance on the scope of this relief will be published by HMRC in the coming days.


  • Job Retention Bonus: UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021. This support will help businesses retain the 1.5 million workers in our sector that are still furloughed.


  • Eat Out to Help Out: To encourage people to safely return to dining out, the Government’s new Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which opens next week, will entitle every diner to a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on their meal, at any participating restaurant, café, pub or other eligible food service establishment across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August 2020.

    Find out how to register your restaurant or establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme:


  • VAT on alcohol: Despite a conservative and coordinated lobby in partnership with our UK counterparts the Chancellor has not reduced the VAT on alcohol sales. This is regrettable as wet only pubs need similar support afforded to food led premises. But it was a very strong no from the UK Government.


  • Apprenticeships / Training Initiatives: As these are devolved issues we are engaging with the NI Executive to lobby for the same incentives.