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Tue 5th Jan 2021 - Pubs and restaurants banned from serving takeaway pints in latest lockdown
Pubs and restaurants banned from serving takeaway pints in latest lockdown: Pubs and restaurants have been banned from selling takeaway alcohol under the latest lockdown rules announced by the prime minister last night. All restaurants, pubs and other hospitality settings must close their doors to customers from tomorrow under the new rules announced by the prime minister in a televised statement from 10 Downing Street. But in a tightening of the restrictions imposed under tier four of the government’s regionalised system, while restaurants and pubs will be able to sell food and soft drinks for delivery, click-and-collect and takeaway, venues will no longer be able to serve takeaway or click-and-collect alcohol. It is understood that the ban is driven by concerns that customers buying takeaway alcohol from pub and bar doors would then congregate with friends nearby to drink. All non-essential retail outlets, as well as personal care services such as hairdressers and nail bars, will also be closed under the lock down, which is expected to last until at least 15 February. Greg Mulholland, campaign director for the Campaign for Pubs, said: “An urgent package of support is needed to save our world-famous pubs. Ministers need to realise now that unless they act decisively and provide adequate grants to get pubs through another lockdown, the future of many beloved, important and historic pubs is at risk and the future for many families is bleak. Without urgent, adequate support, many pubs, including pubs that have survived for centuries and two world wars, will be lost – and many families reliant on pubs and hospitality face hardship and homelessness. Once again, pubs have been unfairly scapegoated with the ban on takeaways and the Campaign for Pubs is calling for this to be reversed. It’s wrong for pubs to be prevented from operating as off-licences, whilst supermarkets continue to trade without any restrictions.” Paul Crossman, chair of the Campaign for Pub and a licensee in York, said: “As we enter a third national lockdown for England and Scotland, the situation for thousands of pubs across the UK now looks truly dire. If the government does not immediately announce a much-strengthened package of financial grant support for pubs and their suppliers, then the industry faces real catastrophe. Communities across the nation will face the prospect of losing their beloved social hubs, and the families that run them will be facing severe and long-lasting hardship. The current grant support is woefully inadequate even to cover basic fixed costs, which for some continues to include full property costs. For those pubs this is the most pressing existential threat, so the government must now act by replacing the current voluntary Code on rents with mandatory measures to give publicans substantial backdated relief on property costs for businesses that once again simply cannot trade. They must also urgently provide income support for the great many publicans currently excluded from eligibility for whatever reason.”

Landlords call on government to address CVA abuse: Landlords are urging the government to take immediate action to prevent retailers “abusing” Britain’s insolvency framework by shifting the cost of “years of failings and underinvestment” on to property owners, The Times has reported. The British Property Federation, which includes British Land, Land Securities and Hammerson, among its members, has written to Lord Callanan, the corporate responsibility minister, calling for tighter rules. There were 33 CVAs where landlords took the brunt of the pain last year, up from 11 the previous year, according to the federation. A fresh wave is expected in the coming months as tenants seek to follow the lead of companies which have used CVAs to write off rent debts accrued during the pandemic. “While the crisis has brought genuine hardship to businesses up and down the country, it has also been cynically used as an excuse by wealthy individuals and private equity backers to shift on to property owners the cost of years of failings and under-investment,” Melanie Leech, chief executive of the federation, said in the letter, which was reported by The Times. “As well as being fundamentally inequitable, such CVAs are damaging to the high street, hurting pensioners and savers and undermining the UK’s reputation among international investors.” An estimated 70% of Britain’s retail, food and drink space is owned by the public through charities, local authorities and institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies. Smaller landlords who may rely on one or two units to fund their retirements are also adversely affected because they are unlikely to be able to afford the legal costs of challenging a CVA, Ms Leech said. The federation urged the government to ensure that the voting procedure is fairer to those that the CVA compromises by giving their votes greater weight than the votes of unaffected creditors. It also called for a requirement that all CVAs are independently scrutinised and can enforce only temporary changes to contracts while a turnaround strategy is carried out. The Times reported: “Struggling retailers and hospitality groups say that CVAs are needed to safeguard businesses and provide a sustainable platform to rebuild sales.” Bill Hughes, head of real assets at Legal and General Investment Management, one of Britain’s biggest institutional property investors, told The Times: “I don’t think there’s much evidence to say that CVAs are very successful. Generally, one CVA is followed by another CVA by the same company and there is little evidence of CVAs providing a route to ... a long-term sustainable business.” He said that many CVAs were launched with “no clarity of a business plan, transparency or evidence of being fair, balanced and reasonable. I don’t have a problem with CVAs if they were to be done in a way that sees proportionate voting rights given to landlords, which would make it a legitimate mechanism.” Commercial landlords and their tenants face the challenge of coming to an agreement over how to settle about £4.5 billion of rent debts accumulated during the pandemic. A government moratorium on evictions of businesses that fail to pay rent during the coronavirus turmoil is due to end on 31 March.

Meatless burgers hit the high street for Veganuary: A Leeds-based maker of plant-based foods is to start supplying Leon and Pret A Manger, with its vegan burgers and meats. According to The Times, Meatless Farm’s meat-free patties, which are made out of pea protein, will be used in Leon’s Love burger and the company will soon announce a plant-based makeover of one of Pret’s classic menu items. They are being rolled out in time for “Veganuary” this month, when 500,000 people are expected to adopt a vegan diet. “It’s good business, but it’s also a useful brand-building exercise,” Morten Toft Bech, the Danish founder, said. Toft Bech started Meatless Farm in 2016 after his wife challenged him to develop vegetarian food for their three children that was more appealing than a daily diet of beans and lentils. He spent two years experimenting before launching the first products in 2018. Now the company’s meat-free mince, sausages and burgers are stocked by the big British supermarkets, as well as in whole food shops in America.

Mindful Chef reports New Year sales surge: The Mindful Chef healthy recipe box service has reported a +733% increase in new customer sign-ups in the week between Christmas and the New Year compared to last year, as health returns to the top of the nation’s agenda. Tim Lee, chief executive of Mindful Chef, said: “We have seen a large increase in new customer sign-ups this weekend, with a +733% uplift. This has beaten our +452% increase we experienced during the first national lockdown. Online grocery shopping continues to grow in popularity and health remains at the front of many people’s minds. As a business with health and wellbeing at its heart, the New Year is typically a busy period for Mindful Chef, however, due to the increased concern over covid infection rates, this recent hike is higher than expected.” Mindful Chef has seen an uplift across all of the brand’s ranges, with one person, two-person, family boxes and frozen meals all experiencing a spike in sales. As the nation prepares for tougher covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Mindful Chef’s frozen food range experienced a +423% increase in sales as customers begin to stock their freezers with convenient healthy options.

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