Johnson Offers Cash for England Pubs Told to Close Due to Covid

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Boris Johnson will promise cash grants to traditional English pubs forced to shut under new pandemic rules as he seeks to persuade critics in his party to back him in a vote on Tuesday.

The prime minister will announce funding of about 40 million pounds ($54 million) to help so-called wet pubs that serve only drinks and will be required to close when the new restrictions come into force in England on Wednesday, a person familiar with the plan said.

Under the rules, pubs and bars can only remain open in areas subject to high or very high level curbs if they operate as restaurants and serve substantial meals.

Johnson is facing a revolt from dozens of members of Parliament in his ruling Conservative Party who plan to vote against the restrictions later on Tuesday. They say the rules are unfair because they apply across too wide regions of the country and don’t discriminate enough between areas with different infection levels.

These Tories worry that Johnson’s rules are too harsh and will cost jobs, while having damaging social and longer-term health impacts in areas where businesses are forced to close.

‘Tough’

On Monday, Johnson defended the “tough” rules facing most of England when the national lockdown ends.

“I know that lots of people think that they are in the wrong tier and I understand people’s frustration,” the prime minister said in a pooled television interview. “The tiering system is tough, but it’s designed to be tough and to keep it under control.”

The opposition Labour Party said it will abstain in the vote on the new measures, meaning they are expected to be approved, but a big rebellion by Tory MPs would embarrass the premier and highlight his conflict with a growing number of Conservatives over his response to the pandemic.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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