COVID-19 - Reality Sinks In

Updated: Mar 16

2020/NO.22 - We are indebted to one of our correspondents Damien, a careful and very thoughtful licensee, for the detail that he has given to the reality of the COVID-19 separation rules and regulations on his pub. The two floor plans, representing trade before and after, together with customer serving logic, are as accurate as possible and give a realistic flavour to what you can expect in trading after the lockdown for pubs has eased. Early July beckons for trading in pub gardens but no Government guidance as yet to how we can expect trade in the pub bar area after the warm summer months have ended. Will the social distancing be eased from the current two meters. We just don’t know. The floor plans make the reasonable assumption that the two meter rule will continue.

The original post by Damien, mentioned above, set out the following;


We only have a small pub, so this exercise didn't take long. Might be worthwhile doing for your pubs...

Focusing on our indoor space, we are looking to lose approx 75% of possible customer seating/standing if we re-open with 2m social distancing restrictions. Plus with very restrictive spacing, some difficulty managing movements and interactions.


• Before:- 62 (plus standing room for approx 20)

• After:- 19 (No at-bar seating, and no standing)

𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 - 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝟐𝐦 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃-𝟏𝟗 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬.

• All doorways and corridors do not allow 2 people to pass.

• Require door staff to restrict access - guide to allocated seating

• Toilets only room for one person at a time.

• Toilets - sanitise after every customer?

• Loss of social events (quiz night / bingo / pool / darts etc..)

• No customer standing due to space constraints.

• Room behind bar for only 1 staff member.

• Room in kitchen for only 1 staff member."

Left image - Without distancing. Right Image - With distancing.

Pub Co COVID-19 Reality & MRO

Not for one minute do we think that the Pubcos/Brewers have owned up to the reality that we now publish. Well maybe they do but are too frightened to grasp the nettle. Too painful. It will hit them in spades but also leave carnage within the trade if they don’t cancel rather than go on deferring rents. By the end of this year there will be three quarters rent owing. Look to that future and total carnage.

We have had clients, openly bullied by their BDMs but only in phone conversations (crafty and calculated) which we are happy to relay.

“So you are still thinking of still going free of tie. Yup, thought so. We both know that staying in the fold makes so much sense, we will bend over backwards to keep all things afloat. Think of your wife and family. Best thoughts to keep well. I promise I will put my job on the line, go as high as it takes, I really will, to get you the best offer.(are they trained to say such total rubbish-we are being tactful ?) I can bend the discounts to give you a jaw dropping deal. There is only so much we can give away, but for you I will go the distance. Guaranteed. Look once you are free of tie we couldn’t give a flying toss. You are on your own and sink or swim. Your choice. Bad move”.

Yes this was a real conversation recorded by our tied tenant client in the drawn out process of MRO. Nothing confirmed in ‘meeting notes’ and of course totally deniable if push comes to shove. No names (as yet) we will see if the conversation is confirmed which is most unlikely. These targeted verbal only threats are now sadly all too common.

The hope that the Pubcos are listening was yet again dashed with the receipt of a recent rent offer for MRO from a major Pubco... No names as yet because so called negotiations are ongoing. The FMT was the same as the Rent Assessment Proposal that was issued in July 2018. No allowance for COVID-19 in any shape or form. Are these guys so totally dim or well frightened of their job security that there is no recognition that the trading profile of a pub, heavily dependent on restaurant style food, will sink through the floor in the months to come. We despair!