Published: 06:00, 16 September 2020
In 2010, there were 1,290 venues that could be frequented for a drop of your favourite tipple.
But by the end of 2019, that figure was down to 1,150 - 120 disappearing in Kent and a further 20 in Medway.
Another area with a big decrease was Sevenoaks, down 20, from 90 to 70.
Most other constituencies in Kent and Medway saw at least 10 pubs and bars fold.
Kent brewer Shepherd Neame has seen its portfolio of pubs and hotels fall from 365 in 2010 to 322 by the end of the 2018/19 financial year, with many of its smaller venues "that no longer fit its strategy" having been sold off. Among others, it has since disposed of the Dog and Gun and the Swan, both in Maidstone.
However, the big concern is the latest ONS figures are for 2019, so do not take into account the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pubs, bars and restaurants have been devastated by lockdown restrictions, having effectively been no-go areas for almost three months.
They were allowed to reopen from July 4 but with restrictions in place, meaning most are not able to run at full capacity, therefore limiting their income. The "rule of six" also limits the size of groups who can visit pubs.
There is also the fear of temporary closure if there is a positive Covid-19 test, such as the Kings Arms in Meopham where a case was identified on August 31.
The British Beer and Pub Association warned in August that over a third of pubs (37%) could not break even in their first month of reopening, while one in four pub and breweries said they did not think their business was sustainable past March 2021.
While the Government's furlough scheme has protected hospitality jobs and prevented companies from going bust, there have been calls for it to be extended, with the industry in a precarious state and concerns about trade during the autumn and winter.
Cllr Adam Price (Lab), who represents Gillingham North Ward on Medway Council, said: "It’s really disappointing to see these numbers of pub closures across Medway, and the pattern is clear – pubs are simply not getting the support needed from national government.
“Gillingham and Rainham has seen a wave of pub closures – from The Black Lion in Mills Road, to The Dog and Bone in Jeffery Street, to The Barge in Layfield Road – to name a few.
“The picture across Gillingham and Rainham is all too familiar – economic pressure is hitting local businesses hard, and more must be done now more than ever to save jobs in this sector."
As well as the furlough scheme, the Government introduced Eat Out To Help Out, allowing businesses to sign up and claim back up to £10 on every meal they sold on Mondays to Wednesdays during August.
It went down well in Kent, with businesses reporting good take-up, but ended on August 31.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) says pubs need support now more than ever, after a survey revealed 42% of people are visiting them less often than they did before lockdown.
It has urged people to return, if they can, or take advantage of takeaway and delivery services that have continued, despite the easing of lockdown measures.
Camra is also calling on the Prime Minister to cut tax on pints served in pubs and cancel business rates for another year to prevent closures, encourage spending and protect jobs.
Nik Antona, Camra's national chairman, said: "While pub closures have slowed in the last few years, every closed pub is a huge loss to the local community and the local economy.
"The COVID-19 crisis has been an unprecedented experience for the beer and pubs industry, and its full impact has yet to be felt.
"While most pubs have now been able to reopen, they have had to do so with reduced footfall and trade due to social distancing measures.
"We would urge everyone to support their local over the coming weeks and months by visiting them because without the additional footfall many will be unable to break even."
Camra has appealed for people to be proactive if they find their local is under threat as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with tips available at camra.org.uk/saveyourlocal.
The government defended its actions, highlighting the schemes it has put in place to prop up pubs and bars.
A Treasury spokesman said: “We have stood by pubs and the communities they serve throughout the pandemic, providing targeted support for the sector including business rates holidays and cash grants of up to £25,000.
"The Eat Out To Help Out initiative also supported two million jobs in the hospitality sector, and the industry is also benefitting from a reduced rate of VAT until January 2021.
“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will have been open for eight months from start to finish – with the government helping to pay the wages of over 9.6 million jobs so far.
"And support doesn’t end in October with the Furlough Bonus paying £1,000 per employee for those brought back to work and kept in employment into 2021.”
And while it might not seem the ideal time to consider running a pub, there are plenty available.
In February, there were almost 40 businesses in Kent listed for sale by Right Move.
There are currently 39 freeholds or leaseholds up for grabs, ranging from £1.1million for the freehold of the Black Horse in Monks Horton, near Ashford, to £30,000 for the leasehold of the Dovecote Inn at Capel, near Paddock Wood.
Food, and should that also be drink, for thought, perhaps?