Fifty of Britain’s major pub owners have written to the government warning them that the industry will see widespread closures and huge job losses due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions to be announced today.

The letter was sent ahead of the introduction of new tiered COVID-19 lockdown rules, which have already been described by the hospitality sector as worse than the current rules.

Fuller’s, Carlsberg UK, Greene King and Mitchells and Butlers were among the signatories warning the government that the pub industry was facing its “darkest hour”.

“The pub is clearly being singled out for exceptionally harsh and unjustified treatment and unless your government changes course, and soon, huge portions of this most British of institutions will simply not be there come the spring,” the letter said.

Debate has raged about the role pub and restaurants play in the spread of COVID-19 with the industry demanding the government publishes its evidence that the sector is a major contributor.

“How can it be that people mixing in unregulated private homes is deemed safer than gathering in limited numbers in larger, regulated and ultimately Covid-secure venues like pubs? There is no logic to this decision.

“It is clear that pubs are being scapegoated despite a lack of available evidence that they are any more responsible for outbreaks than other types of venue. We cannot stand idly by and allow these measures to destroy our businesses,” the letter added.

The government will announce details of which tier applies to which part of the country later today but already reports have circulated that barely anywhere will be in the lowest risk or Tier-one category.

Pubs and restaurants in Tier-2 can only serve alcohol if it comes alongside a “substantial meal”, while Tier-3 outlets must shut and can only serve takeaways.

If the restrictions remain, the pub groups called for greater financial support to offset the impact including cuts in business rates and beer duty.

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