'Let pubs sell alcohol with takeaway meals', says West Norfolk MP
North West Norfolk MP James Wild has called for a change in the coronavirus rules on pubs, which he says risk further damaging the sector.
Although licensees can sell takeaway meals at the moment, they are not currently allowed to offer alcohol with them.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday, Mr Wild praised businesses such as the Crown Inn at Gayton and the Rose and Crown in Harpley, who have adapted their businesses to restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
He also highlighted the contribution of sites like the Bank House in Lynn and the Anvil Inn at Congham, who have offered their services as coronavirus vaccination hubs.
But he argued the rule that prevents pubs from offering closed containers of alcohol with takeaway meals "is unfair and is having a damaging impact."
He added: "The rules should be changed. Where there are issues, enforcement should be taken rather than this blanket approach."
Mr Wild said there was gratitude for the support measures put in place by the Government to enable businesses to recover from effects of the pandemic, but warned that many had told him that more help is needed.
He called for the current reduction of VAT to five per cent and business rates holidays to be extended, adding: "Many employers have taken on considerable debt and have to cover national insurance costs for staff who are furloughed.
"It would be tragic if the benefits of the support to date are lost if firms are unable to hang on until the vaccination programme has had the impact that we all hope for.
"We all look forward to that reopening as the vaccination programme rolls out to the most at-risk groups. People crave normality: meeting for a meal, going to the theatre and having a pint in a pub. We want those places to be there, so we need a road map to get there."
Business minister Paul Scully said he would work with MPs to work out what additional support can be offered to the hospitality sector, but said a way out of restrictions would need to wait for more people to be protected against the virus.
He added: "In a few weeks’ time, we will get to the point with the vaccine roll-out, hopefully alongside the plateauing of the case load, at which we will have a better idea of the timescale and can start talking about a road map."