Equity responds to reports of pubs reopening under restrictions

Over the weekend, conflicting reports emerged on the plans for the re-opening of pubs in the UK, with some sources suggesting pubs will open in April – but be unable to sell alcohol. Equity is calling for the government to clarify their plans for pubs and the wider hospitality sector as a matter of urgency, and to provide a meaningful support package that ensures the industry can survive this crisis.

Many of Equity’s members working in variety entertainment rely on work in pubs and clubs. The livelihoods of artists including singers, comedians and DJs depend on the full return of the industry and, following a year of limited support from the government, many will be forced to leave the entertainment sector if pubs are not able to fully reopen this year.

Equity General Secretary Paul W Fleming said: “These proposals are merely the government’s fig leaf hiding the lack of meaningful support to the hospitality sector. Combined with how 40% of Equity’s members have had no support from furlough or SEISS, this could be a hammer blow to entertainment bouncing back. Variety acts – from singers & comedians to DJs and drag artists – need a pubs and clubs to be in the best position to bounce back after this pandemic. A support package is a cornerstone of a sensible plan for our communities, and our economy”.

Yvonne Joseph, of Equity’s Variety, Circus & Entertainers Committee, said: “Pubs are as important to variety artists as they are to the very fabric of British life. Without pub bookings, Equity members across the country, including singers, comedians and magicians, will have little work left to return to. After a devastating year, many will be forced to leave the industry. The government must act now to end speculation and establish a clear roadmap to ensure the survival of our pubs, or risk damaging British culture and heritage in more ways than one.”

Equity Variety, Circus And Entertainers Councillor Dan de la Motte said: “As a compere and performer, I am grateful for the existence of pub venues. They are the pipeline for new entertainment talent – countless entertainers cut their teeth on circuits like this up and down the country, and they give a platform to those who have not been afforded the luxury of drama school or traditional training. The government must ensure that the sustainability and future of pub venues is protected, with pub workers benefiting from the furlough scheme and SEISS eligibility extended to those in this sector. Without these measures we run the very real risk of pubs shutting their doors for good. Even before the current COVID crisis we have seen a downward trend of pub venues operating and we simply cannot afford to shrink this pool any further.”