Pubs are expecting to sell 21 million fewer pints than normal this bank holiday weekend – despite predictions for the weather to finally turn for the better.
Although Britons have flocked back to the pubs since restrictions lifted, the coronavirus measures that remain – such as table service only – are significantly reducing the number of people that can be hosted at any one time.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has urged for the promised lifting of all restrictions to go ahead as planned on 21 June, arguing it will be essential for the survival of the sector.
But with COVID-19 cases rising in some areas of the UK and the spread of the Indian variant, the June date hangs in the balance.
Pubs are expected to lose out on an estimated £80m in revenue from pint sales this bank holiday alone, the equivalent of 34% less than a normal spring bank holiday weekend, according to BBPA.
While approximately 95% of the UK’s 47,000 pubs have reopened, more than 2,000 are having to stay shut for now as they are too small to operate social distancing or table service only.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said this weekend could be the “difference between surviving or thriving” for thousands of pubs across the country.
Calling for the 21 June opening to go ahead, she added: “Pubs only have a fighting chance of recovering from more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions if they can fully reopen as normal.”
Those who do hit the pubs this weekend can expect to see much better weather after many experienced a total washout for most of May.
Images of determined drinkers huddled under umbrellas in the pouring rain seemed to sum up much of the month – but forecasters are now predicting much warmer and drier weather for the next few days.
The Met Office said temperatures will hit 20C (68F) on Saturday.
By the end of the bank holiday weekend, temperatures could reach 25C (77F) in west London, 21C (70F) in Leeds and 22C (72F) in Newcastle.
They look set to remain in the 20s until the middle of next week, although there is less certainty about the weather beyond Wednesday.