My own experience as a regular pubgoer is that pubs are taking their responsibilities for the health and safety of their staff and customers very seriously: they have to because they do not want their businesses to be closed down. The restrictions currently in place have significantly changed the experience of going to the pub, and have also reduced the numbers of people they can take in.
Most pubs are small, individual businesses that are not supported by the pub company that owns the building. Unlike in the past when most pubs were run by breweries who had a salaried manager on site, nowadays the pub is a stand-alone business with the licensee renting the premises from the owning company. The success or failure of these businesses rests entirely upon the licensee. If a pub fails, the owning company simply has a valuable piece of property to sell for redevelopment, while the licensee loses everything.
One pub landlady told me a few days ago that she is slowly going bankrupt during the current restrictions; another enforced pub closure will only speed up that process. Hospitality accounts for a huge amount of employment in our economy, and pubs provide a valuable antidote to isolation, especially nowadays when the number of single-occupied households is at its highest ever.
Closing pubs is an easy fix for a government that wishes to show that it is 'doing something'. It is not enough to do something: it is essential to do the right thing, especially when thousands of small businesses and jobs are at stake.
► This is adapted from an article that I wrote for the CAMRA column in our local papers, the Southport Visiter and Ormskirk Advertiser. Older articles on local pubs are here.