Coronavirus (COVID-19): Latest advice & guidance for brewers

As this is a rapidly evolving situation all questions and feedback should be sent to and we will do our best to respond. This page is correct as of 11.15am, 2 April 2020.

What SIBA are calling for

  • A targeted package of support for breweries and brewery supply chain to match that received by pubs.
  • A relaxation in licensing laws to allow more breweries to sell beer direct to the consumer, giving them vital cashflow.
  • Cancel beer duty payments and fix the ‘time to pay’ system which erroneously took money from small independent brewers even though they had agreed a deferral with HMRC.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions


SIBA Actions & Updates


1 April: SIBA’s latest advice email – link

1 April: Coronavirus (COVID-19): business support grant funding – GOV guidance for businesses

31 March: Flexibility on Destruction of Beer in Pub Cellars – an update from HMRC

30 March: SIBA’s latest advice email – link

27 March: SIBA’s latest advice email – link

27 March: Guidance for employers on the coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme is now available here

26 March: SIBA’s response to Chancellor announcement & support email – link

25 March: SIBA’s advice email – link

25 March: The Government clarified its guidance on the closure of retailers, and after pressure from SIBA and other industry bodies has confirmed that ‘off-licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries” are exceptions to the closures.

This means that if you have a bottle shop or taproom selling beer for takeaway you can remain open. Online shops and delivery can also remain open and breweries should ensure they follow the Government’s safety guidelines.

24 March: Chancellor confirms that March Beer Duty payment will not be cancelled. See our response here.

24 March: SIBA’s latest advice email, please click here.

23/24 March: Prime Minister introduces new restrictions on the UK. All ‘non essential’ shops to shut.

23 March: SIBA calls on Treasury to cancel beer duty payment in ’24 hours to save British brewing’ press release.

23 March: Government Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme goes live. For details, please click here. 

22 March: Government guidance on further social distancing measures for businesses.

22 March: Government sets out enforcement powers for business that do not comply with social distancing measures, including unlimited fines. Businesses could also face the loss of their alcohol license.

20 March: Government publishes guidance for businesses on social distancing measures. “Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit. Any forthcoming changes to licensing for delivery and takeaway will be clearly communicated by the government.”

20 March: Cask Marque Guide to bar and cellar closures process (2MB). Covering cask and keg beer, this is an excellent guide created by the expert Cask Marque assessor team and Avanti Solutions. If you are closing down your taproom, pub or bar then this guide tells you how to do it safely and hygienically so that when you do need to use it again it will still be in perfect condition.

20 March: The British Business Bank has released initial information about how the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, announced by the Chancellor earlier in the week will work. For full details please click here.

19 March: SIBA, CAMRA & Crowdfunder Launched the #PullingTogether campaign to help beer lovers buy beer from breweries, taprooms & pubs Ain their local area who are offering local delivery or takeout services. For more information visit

19 March: Latest advice to brewers – link

18 March: Template letter to write to your MP launched – link

17 March: SIBA comment on Government’s economic statement raises more questions than it answers –

16 March: SIBA response to Government guidance on Coronavirus –

Not a member of SIBA but want to receive email updates from us regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the options, advice and support open to brewers? Sign up to our daily Covid-19 Industry Alert by clicking here

Government Guidance

The Government is advising people to stay at home, to only go out for food, health reasons or essential work.

The Budget 2020 announced a plan to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19. The below ‘Support for businesses’ guidance gives further detail on the measures announced by the Chancellor including additional funding, Statutory Sick Pay changes, and an increase in the Business Rates retail discount for one year. You will also find guidance below for employers and employees.

Covid-19: Support for businesses
Covid-19: Guidance for employers
Covid-19: Guidance for employees

Wales: Support for business and information for individuals and businesses
Scotland: Support for business and information for individuals and businesses
Northern Ireland: information for individuals and businesses

Financial Support

The Government has announced a series of measures to assist small businesses. This includes:

Time to Pay service

All businesses in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities (including for Beer Duty) may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service which can be contacted on 0800 0159 559. More information can be found here: 

HMRC are also giving out a direct number to phone for Beer Duty: 0300 058 3920, 0300 322 9483 or 0300 322 7821.

The Chancellor has decided not to cancel Beer Duty payments due on Wednesday (25 March). Therefore breweries are strongly encouraged to phone the HMRC helpline above.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

Small businesses are able to borrow up to £5 million with no interest due in the first 12 months. CBILS support a wide range of products including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities.

Further information is available here.

There is a FAQ for Small Businesses here.

VAT deferral

The next quarter of VAT payments have been deferred and no business will pay any until the end of June. This is automatic and businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employee’s salary for those who would otherwise have been laid off.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. It will cover wages backdated to 1 March and the scheme will be up and running before the end of April.

Further details have been published. Employers will be able to use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ wages (i.e. those that are on a leave of absence from work). This is up to £2,500 a month plus the National Insurance contributions and minimum pension contributions.

Business Rates in England

Any inquiries on eligibility should be directed to local authorities. You can use this search to find your local council –

  • All retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will now be exempt from business rates for a whole year. The Government has advised the relief will be for occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used: as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues.
  • Businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be given a cash grant of £25,000.
  • To support pubs, the Business Rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 in England was also increased from £1,000 to £5,000 for one year.
  • Businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief and Rural Rates Relief will receive a £10,000 one off grant to help meet their ongoing costs.
  • Businesses struggling to pay their taxes can arrange a time to pay arrangement with HMRC. SIBA lobbied Government following the Budget and Treasury has confirmed to us that time to pay arrangements can also be made on Beer Duty.

The Government has issued guidance for local authorities and for businesses

Business Rates in Scotland

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
  • First Minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board
  • urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways
  • extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022
  • halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill

The Scottish Government has also set up a business helpline (open Monday – Friday, 8.30am-5.30pm) – 0300 303 0660

Business Rates in Wales

The Guide for businesses in Wales – link

  • Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses will receive 100% business rate relief.
  • Shops, leisure and hospitalty businesses with a rateable value of £12,001-£51,000 will get a £25,000 grant.
  • £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.
  • Pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their Business Rates bill.
  • A further £100m will be available for a new grant scheme for small businesses which are not eligible for this new business rate relief.
  • Further details on this new grant scheme will be confirmed as soon as possible.

For further support or business advice call: 03000 6 03000 (open Monday – Friday, 8.30am-5.30pm)

Business Rates in Northern Ireland

  • All businesses will pay zero rates for the next three months
  • The issuing of rates bills is deferred from April until June
  • Proposed reductions in the regional business rate

Businesses can receive help by callingh the Invest NI Helpline: 0800 181 4422

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Further details on the support scheme for the self-employed has been published. This will allow the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,5000 per month.

Commerical Rents

The Government has announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rents because of coronavirus over the next three months will be protected from eviction. We would urge a discussion with your landlords first.


For businesses that have an insurance policy that covers pandemics, the Government’s has said its announcement will be sufficient to allow businesses to make a claim against their policy.

Extra 3 months to file accounts to Companies House

Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.

From today (25 March 2020), businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts. This joint initiative between the government and Companies House will mean businesses can prioritise managing the impact of Coronavirus. More info.

Closure of pubs, bars and restaurants

On Friday (20 March) the Government asked restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs to close and not to open for trade from Saturday 21 March. It is now enforceable by law and businesses that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices and potentially unlimited fines. These measures will be reviewed every 28 days.


On Wednesday (25 March) the Government clarified its guidance on the closure of retailers that sell non-essentials, and after pressure from SIBA and other industry bodies has confirmed that ‘off-licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries”are exceptions to the closures.

This means that if you have a shop selling beer for takeaway you can continue to remain open if you choose to do so. It is a matter for breweries to decide for themselves whether they wish to do so and if you do you should ensure you follow the Government’s safety guidelines. The Association of Convenience Stores has also published resources for retailers.

Northern Ireland – off-licences are to close: link.

Online shops and deliveries

Online shops and deliveries can remain open and breweries should ensure they follow the Government’s safety guidelines. Breweries should check whether their premises licence has permission for off sales and whether there are any conditions that restrict this before delivering directly to the public.

Flexibility on Destruction of Beer in Pub Cellars

HMRC has issued new guidance on reclaiming duty on beer destroyed in pub-cellars. Currently the destruction of beer must be supervised by a representative from a brewery (for example an Authorised Company Representative).

Designated pub personnel will be permitted to carry out the destruction of spoilt beer on their own premises without the need for an Authorised Company Representative, providing the brewer claiming the relief is satisfied that destruction has taken place and retains suitable evidence. This evidence can be in the form of a digital recording.

Breweries will continue to be required to have:

  • an audit trail confirming the destruction of duty paid beer
  • evidence of a full credit of the duty paid, or replacement of the goods to your customer or the owner of the goods at the time they became spoilt
  • the need for breweries to maintain their spoilt beer records.

Destruction away from registered premises will need to continue to comply with other regulatory conditions; for example, those of the Environment Agency. HMRC will give at least 30 days’ notice before they withdraw these temporary measures.

SIBA has received much needed clarification on the new guidance. HMRC clarified that it is the passing on or crediting of beer duty to the customer and not the full value of the beer that needs to be evidenced in order for the brewer to make a successful claim. The online guidance has now been updated. They also confirmed that Notice 226 will also be amended in due course to make this clearer.

SIBA are working with the industry to produce a protocol for pubs and brewers to assist in the disposal of beer during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Exporting Guidance

The Government has published advice for businesses trading internationally which can be found here. The Department for International Trade can provide assistance with customs authorities and supply chain issues.

Mental health

Advice and information on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 outbreak.

NHS Advice on Coronavirus

Please click here to read the latest NHS advice on limiting the spread of Coronavirus, what symptoms those who have contracted the virus may exhibit and what to do if you beleive you may be at risk of having caught the virus, or are showing similar symptoms.