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The number of pubs that have closed in Suffolk over the last 10 years

The number of registered pubs and bars in Suffolk has fallen by 90 in 10 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In 2010, there were 625 venues that could be frequented for a drop of your favourite tipple.

But by the end of 2019, that figure was down to 535 - 90 disappearing from across the county.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the pub and bar trade. Stock picture: iStockphoto (42286041)
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the pub and bar trade. Stock picture: iStockphoto (42286041)

The pub trade in Waveney was among the hardest hit, with 20 fewer businesses in the constituency, just 60 registered pubs in 2019 compared with 80 in 2010.

Other areas with a big decrease was South Suffolk , down 15, from 105 to 90, and Suffolk Coastal, also down 15, from 110 to 95.

Bury St Edmunds saw the fewest pub closures, only losing 5 between 2010 and 2019, 95 down to 90.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich saw a reduction of 10, 75 down to 65, as did Ipswich , down from 70 to 60, and West Suffolk, which now has 80 in comparison to 90 in 2010.

However, the big concern is the latest ONS figures are for 2019, so do not take into account the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pubs, bars and restaurants have been devastated by lockdown restrictions, having effectively been no-go areas for almost three months.

They were allowed to reopen from July 4 but with restrictions in place, meaning most are not able to run at full capacity, therefore limiting their income. The "rule of six" also limits the size of groups who can visit pubs .

There is also the fear of temporary closure if there is a positive Covid-19 test.

The British Beer and Pub Association warned in August that over a third of pubs (37 per cent) could not break even in their first month of reopening, while one in four pub and breweries said they did not think their business was sustainable past March 2021.

While the Government's furlough scheme has protected hospitality jobs and prevented companies from going bust, there have been calls for it to be extended, with the industry in a precarious state and concerns about trade during the autumn and winter.

As well as the furlough scheme, the Government introduced Eat Out To Help Out, allowing businesses to sign up and claim back up to £10 on every meal they sold on Mondays to Wednesdays during August.

It went down well in Suffolk, with businesses reporting good take-up, but ended on August 31.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme proved popular (42286055)
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme proved popular (42286055)

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) says pubs need support now more than ever, after a survey revealed 42 per cent of people are visiting them less often than they did before lockdown.

It has urged people to return, if they can, or take advantage of takeaway and delivery services that have continued, despite the easing of lockdown measures.

Camra is also calling on the Prime Minister to cut tax on pints served in pubs and cancel business rates for another year to prevent closures, encourage spending and protect jobs.

Nik Antona, Camra's national chairman, said: "While pub closures have slowed in the last few years, every closed pub is a huge loss to the local community and the local economy.

"The COVID-19 crisis has been an unprecedented experience for the beer and pubs industry, and its full impact has yet to be felt.

"While most pubs have now been able to reopen, they have had to do so with reduced footfall and trade due to social distancing measures.

"We would urge everyone to support their local over the coming weeks and months by visiting them because without the additional footfall many will be unable to break even."

Camra has appealed for people to be proactive if they find their local is under threat as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with tips available at camra.org.uk/saveyourlocal .

The government defended its actions, highlighting the schemes it has put in place to prop up pubs and bars.

A Treasury spokesman said: “We have stood by pubs and the communities they serve throughout the pandemic, providing targeted support for the sector including business rates holidays and cash grants of up to £25,000.

"The Eat Out To Help Out initiative also supported two million jobs in the hospitality sector, and the industry is also benefitting from a reduced rate of VAT until January 2021.

“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will have been open for eight months from start to finish – with the government helping to pay the wages of over 9.6 million jobs so far.

"And support doesn’t end in October with the Furlough Bonus paying £1,000 per employee for those brought back to work and kept in employment into 2021.”

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