Two thirds of pub jobs could be lost unless social distancing restrictions are reduced to one metre, the industry is warning.
Ministers were also urged to maintain the furlough scheme at the current rate of paying 80% of wages until October after the Government signalled it will ask companies to start sharing the cost from August.
In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and UKHospitality (UKH) called for furlough salary for pub and hospitality staff to be maintained at 80% until October.
That would allowing the sector, which is two months behind reopening compared to the rest of the economy, to fully get back up and running, they said.
The trade bodies warned that thousands of jobs could be lost unless pubs can safely re-open and be operationally and commercially viable businesses by July.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said the furlough scheme had been a lifeline to pubs and pub jobs.
“However, unless social distancing restrictions are reduced to the WHO’s (World Health Organisation) suggested one metre, two thirds of pub jobs could be lost.
“It is vital that the Government allows pubs to re-open under those safe conditions in July, so that they can operate at a sustainable level and become pillars of the community once more.
“Under two metre social distancing rules, pubs will have less space to operate with so will need less staff.
“Many pubs won’t even be able to re-open, yet they could be expected to cover part of their staff furlough costs from August without any money coming in.
“Such a situation would mean either pubs closing for good or jobs being lost.
“Pubs have been closed since March with no income coming in. Expecting many to contribute to furlough costs whilst they are still closed is madness. The decision for the Chancellor is simple, extend the furlough scheme at 80% for our sector until October to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality said: “It is absolutely crucial that the furlough scheme is extended, in its full form, until the end of October.
“Some businesses will reopen in July, but many will be trading at far below full capacity.
“They will be operating with reduced income and will likely incur additional costs to ensure social distancing measures are in place.
“Businesses will have to continue to furlough some staff members and they will need Government support to do so.
“The reality is, that after five months of virtually no earnings, facing start-up costs up and additional ongoing costs, businesses will simply not be able to contribute to the furlough scheme from August.
“The sector will only be taking its first baby steps and to expect businesses to go from a standstill to full speed immediately will only lead to venues shutting their doors for good and see staff lose their jobs.”