Around the branch in August

During the Covid-19 shutdown we heard many stories of licensees, cidermakers, brewers and volunteers who did amazing things for their communities and customers. We don’t mean just selling takeaways. We mean going beyond the call of duty. Cambridge & District CAMRA would like to thank those in our branch area who went the extra mile. We can’t do so unless you tell us who they all are. Please email us details of who you think should be recognised and why.

Pubs re-opened

It’s over a month now since pubs were allowed to reopen. Many did so immediately but others took days and weeks before they were ready for us to return. A few pubs have still not reopened. Before any pub reopens its licensee will have looked at their pub anew, having read the government’s guidance, and reassessed risks accordingly. To give you an idea of what changes you might find, CAMRA put together some advice, hints and tips on visiting pubs responsibly and safely, in line with government guidance. It can be found here under the tab “CAMRA’s advice for consumers on getting back to the pub”. It’s also available as a single page of bullet points.

We hope that the measures taken by licensees will have reassured you that it is safe for most of us to return to their pubs. They need our custom to help them through this difficult time. Please be patient, follow the individual pubs’ Covid-secure procedures and continue following the Public Health England guidelines to keep yourselves, fellow pub-goers and bar staff safe. It is incredibly important that we don’t get a significant second wave, for many reasons including the long-term survival of our pubs.

Many of the pubs that have reopened have temporarily changed their opening hours etc. To help you find out which pubs are open when we have created a “Leaving Lockdown” page on our branch website. The information in it also appears in a box on each pub’s WhatPub entry. Keeping this information up to date is a big challenge for local CAMRA volunteers. You can help by being our eyes and ears and keeping us informed either via WhatPub’s “submit updates” feature or by email.

Eat Out to Help Out

To encourage us to return to the hospitality sector, which includes pubs, the government has instigated an Eat Out to Help Out scheme that gives a 50% discount (up to a maximum of £10 off) on food and soft drinks that are consumed in-house, Monday to Wednesday in August. Many of our pubs that serve food have registered for the scheme. This information can also be found on our new page. Taking advantage of the scheme is another way for you to support many of our pubs.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme wasn’t the only measure affecting pubs that the Chancellor announced in mid-July. VAT on food and soft drinks from restaurants and pubs was cut from 20% to 5% from 15 July until 12 January. It is very disappointing that the cut specifically excludes beer and cider. Despite this, the cut will help pubs with significant food sales although many smaller pubs, with an annual turnover of £150,000 or less, pay flat rate VAT on their turnover. The rate of this has been reduced for pubs from 6.5% to 1% for the same period as the standard rate cut. Clearly the benefit of the VAT cut will be proportionally less for pubs on flat rate VAT and for wet-led rather than food-led pubs. CAMRA continues to campaign for greater support for all our pubs. We are calling for long-term support measures: business rates reform and a tax reduction on draught beer. Another thing we would like is for the licensees of all tenanted pubs to have the option to boost trade by selling beer and cider from small, local and independent producers. Many tenants want this option. CAMRA have created the Cheers to Choice petition to promote this campaign. Please sign the petition to improve choice for pub-goers and to make sure all parts of the beer and pubs industry are supported in the tough times ahead.

Future events

Although pubs have reopened we can’t yet return to holding our monthly open meetings in them. During the shutdown they continued, on the second Tuesday of the month, mostly as Zoom meetings. This will continue until it is safe for them to be held in pubs again. If you would like to attend our open Zoom meetings please email Steve, our branch secretary.

Another thing that can’t return just yet is our beer festival. Cambridge Beer Festival Winter would have been held in November but it will not go ahead in 2020. It isn’t compatible with the social distancing required to combat Covid-19. We also feel that it might impact on pubs at a time when they are gradually getting back on their feet. Instead of a beer festival we are planning an event around that time to encourage you to discover and rediscover Cambridge’s pubs. It’s aimed at promoting our tenanted pubs, free-houses and small local chains that we think were hardest hit by the shutdown.


Tuesday 11 August from 8. Virtual open branch meeting and social. This meeting will be held on Zoom. Please email Steve, our branch secretary, if you’d like to attend.

Tuesday 8 September from 8. Monthly open branch meeting and social.

Tuesday 13 October from 8. Monthly open branch meeting and social.

The health of each other, our family, friends and our communities is incredibly import. Please support our NHS and continue to follow the advice given by Public Health England.