High street pub chain Fuller’s has stepped in to save its landlords following the company’s decision to close doors at the request of the Government.

Fuller’s was ordered to shut all of its pubs and restaurants, along with other pub chains, last Friday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said closures would help people adhere to social distancing advice.

Johnson’s request came as the country’s total number of coronavirus cases hit 5,000, with deaths almost reaching 300.

For weeks the Prime Minister had asked people to stay inside to curb the pandemic, which is sweeping across the globe, so COVID-19 does not overwhelm the NHS.

Brits largely ignored Johnson, and tougher restrictions followed, forcing the likes of Fuller’s to close.

The decision sparked uncertainty amongst tenants who would be left in the lurch, accumulating debt, if unable to trade.

But for Fuller’s tenants, the pub company made it “crystal clear” their rent is being “stopped, not suspended or postponed,” which will alleviate pressure.

The decision came as a welcome surprise to social media users done with the “doom and gloom” of COVID-19.

Hundreds praised the pub company, with one suggesting the lack of “clarity and leadership” from Johnson has meant CEOs must step up.

One user said: “Somebody needs to keep tally of the good guys and the bad guys in this crisis so we know who to give our business to when we come through the other side of this.”

Another said: “I don't like beer but Fuller's will be my first drink once we come out of this dark times. Much respect.”

With a third adding: “I wish I could get similar clarity from my landlord (which is the council) as I've a £1k rent bill due to be paid on the 1st.”

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In a statement to Fuller's tenants, the company said: "We have been monitoring the effect of the coronavirus situation over the last few weeks and specifically how recent government announcements have affected our Tenants.

"Our strategy has been to offer support and advice through regular contact, in addition to instruction rent reductions on an individual basis where pubs were being particularly impacted.

"Our aim is to continue and expand this support – in through working closely with the BII, along with other trade bodies and pub owning businesses.

"We have taken the decision to close our Managed Pubs and Hotels from Monday.

"This is not a suggestion for the action you take, but just for information.

"I know many of you are doing some amazing things to serve your local communities and we will do our best to support your initiatives.

Fuller's added: "Fuller’s pubs and tenants are the best in the UK and it is imperative that, as a business, we ensure your survival and that you can emerge the other side of this without a worrisome burden of debt.

"To that end, we are stopping all commercial rent from this week for all tenanted pubs, trading or otherwise.

"This will be reviewed periodically as the situation changes.

"For the avoidance of doubt and to provide clarity, this is not a suspension of billing nor rent holiday – this reduction will not be recovered by Fuller’s.

"Alongside this support, your BDM will continue to be in regular contact so please address any specific questions to them.

"I hope that in taking this action we can give you some space to support you communities, staff members and families.

"This challenging time will be over – and when it is, we will be ready to rebuild."

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The Prime Minister made the decision to close pubs last Friday, as well as leisure centres, cinemas and theatres, in a bid to stop the spread.

Johnson had avoided closures in favour of heard immunity but quickly change his mind as the number of cases in the UK climbed.

He said the measures are just "enforcing" the advice already given to the public in an effort to reduce social contact by 75%, estimated to be what's necessary to lower transmission rates.

"Licensing arrangements will make it relatively simply to do, should that be necessary," he said, but added he believes most business owners will comply with the closures.

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Despite not ordering shops to close, the Brit high street has taken a beating in the last week, with the likes of Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Primark closing their doors and letting staff go in the wake of the pandemic.

Food retailers McDonalds, Subway, Costa and Starbucks have followed suit too, as well as Wetherspoons, which had previously said it would remain open.

The changes in consumer behaviour have forced iconic British brand Laura Ashely into administration, as well as Carphone Warehouse.

It is a blow for the UK, who had seen an uptake in shoppers, following five years of closures as demand switched to online.

  • Coronavirus

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