Pubs in England in tier 2 areas where people cannot socialise with anyone outside their household have “no support whatsoever,” making them among the sector’s most vulnerable, according to a real ale consumer organisation.
Nik Antona, national chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), told NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times, that unless pubs are forced to close due to being in a tier 3 area, they are currently left without government help, even though their business is impacted by reduced footfall.
Jamie West, landlord of the Hare and Hounds and the Rose and Crown, both in St Albans, South East England, told NTD that many landlords feared their areas being placed into tier 2 of the government’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions, as this would mean “another significant drop-off in trade”.
Antona said that even “wet-led” pubs in tier 3 that are not serving food, so have to close, are not adequately supported, because though they will be able to benefit from the latest government jobs support scheme, the £3,000 ($3,900) a month they can get in grants often doesn’t cover their utility and other bills.
Many pubs could go out of business permanently, he said, and is calling on the government to put in place a fuller support package for pubs.
“Potentially up to 25 percent of the pubs in this country could go by Christmas if the government doesn’t step up and put in a support package to help them through these difficult times,” Antona said.
‘Scapegoat for All The Issues’
Antona said that despite there being “no evidence” for pubs being responsible for increased spread of the CCP virus, pubs are cast as “a scapegoat for all the issues we’ve got”.
West echoed his remarks, saying there have been “virtually no recorded cases of COVID actually coming out of pubs”.
Antona said falling consumer confidence was nevertheless affecting pub businesses, whose customers in England face a plethora of different restrictions.
These range from a 10 p.m. curfew to the “very extreme end” where pubs can only open if they serve alcohol along with a “substantial meal”.
West said that although each of the three tiers has “its own dangers,” many pub landlords were “almost terrified” of going into tier 2 because then “they know it will get worse”.
‘Centre of British Life’
Antona said that pub closures affected communities as well as businesses.
Pubs are “the centre of British life, village life, and communities” where people meet each other, he said.
He added that for some people, the pub provides their only social interaction.
“We’re seeing an increase in mental health issues and well-being issues with people not having an opportunity to interact,” Read More – Source
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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