At a time when many of us feel the need for a drink, the UK and European drinks industry is being decimated as businesses and citizens cope with a society self-isolating.
And just as in the US, it’s all happening seemingly overnight…
On Monday March 16 Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised UK citizens to stay away from social venues like restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres and music venues.
“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel” the clearly besieged Prime Minister stressed. When asked by the BBC whether this means that pubs, bars, restaurants and theatres would close, Johnson said the government was giving “very strong advice that public venues such as theatres…should not be visited.”
Johnson said the government had the power to enforce the closure of such establishments, but did not deem it necessary at this stage.
At the time of the Prime Minister’s announcement there were 1,543 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, up by 171 in 24 hours.
The PM also said the government would no longer “support” mass gatherings.
According to the Drinks Business “tastings across the UK have already been cancelled due to the uncertain climate, while many drinks shows have also been either postponed or axed altogether worldwide.”
The government’s new policy could deliver a crucial blow to the UK’s hospitality industry, which has already seen hundreds of closures in recent years as pub and restaurant owners have struggled to pay rising business rates.
Pub, bar and hotel bookings in the UK have already plummeted due to the public fear of coronavirus, according to UKHospitality. Visitor traffic fell by 44% over the weekend according to the trade organization compared to the same period last year.
The UK’s action follows emergency policies implemented by the Spanish and Italian governments which have been forced into self-isolation in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
On March 9, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte enacted a national quarantine in response to the growing COVID-19 outbreak in the country and Spain joined Italy in imposing a national quarantine last weekend.
The Irish government has also advised that all of the country’s bars and pubs should shut this week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Tony Holohan, chief medical officer for the Irish Department of Health, called for all members of the public not to engage in St Patrick’s Day celebrations that might put other people’s lives at risk….
“Everyone is asked to reduce their social contact over this time period. House parties carry the same risks as being in a pub or club, therefore people should not organize or attend them. The virus is now in our community, it is up to us to limit its spread.”
More than 100 million Europeans are now living under lockdown due to the coronavirus with no sure end in sight.
And that’s terrible news for the UK, Ireland and Europe’s bar and hospitality industry.