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15 May 2020

Hospitality and COVID-19 exit planning

The Brewers of Europe | In a letter to the European Commission The Brewers of Europe is calling to consider setting up a special task force on hospitality and tourism including bars, pubs and cafes as part of its ‘European Roadmap’ towards lifting of COVID-19 lockdowns.

In his letter to Mr Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Pavlos Photiades, President of The Brewers of Europe warned that with a third of Europe’s beer market closed due to the restrictions placed on the hospitality sector, many bars and cafes may never re-open, whilst a number of breweries will regrettably have brewed their last beer, despite the unprecedented support measures put in place.

Bars, pubs and breweries must be covered by Tourism strategy

“Bars, pubs and cafes, but also breweries themselves, many of which are visitor destinations in their own right, are an integral part of the heritage and culture of many European countries and must be covered by the EU's COVID-19 Tourism strategy,” Mr Photiades said in his letter.

“A possible option may be the setting up of a special task force on hospitality and tourism that looks at the unique challenge for the different establishments, including bars, restaurant, pubs and cafes,” he added.

The Brewers of Europe are also concerned that the brewing and hospitality sector often “find themselves at the bottom of the timetable for reopening” under the COVID-19 exit plans currently being considered by the EU and European countries. They have signaled the need for a coordinated approach to reopening hospitality establishments that focuses on the ability of each establishment to follow health and safety rules, including on distancing.

Rebuilding consumer confidence in the "going out" and socialising experience without compromising safety, necessary social distancing and hygiene measures will be key. But bars, cafes and pubs need to reopen as soon as possible and government support will be needed for an economically viable exit during and beyond the gradual reopening and progressive relaxation of measures.

Avoid a lost season

“This support can come in the form of grants and loans but should also consider the opportunity for reduced VAT on the service of beers in bars, or specifically on tap, plus extensions and greater flexibility on the opportunity to offer reduced excise duty to smaller breweries,” Photiades said.

“Due to the strategic importance of the hospitality sector for the future of the European brewing sector, I am keen to see all possible solutions considered to avoid a lost season for bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants, but also brewers, all without compromising on health and safety, core principles within any modern-day sustainable brewery.”