The Government's announcement on 22 February provided a roadmap for the easing of restrictions and we have successfully traded an average of 535 sites from outdoor areas since 12 April.
Whilst uncertainty and challenges still remain, we are encouraged by the successful roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme and the fall in infection rates and are confident, given the demand that we have seen so far since re-openings, that we will see strong consumer confidence in our brands supporting a rebound to profitability and cash generation once restrictions are fully eased.
Mitchells & Butlers has continued to play a role in the UK Hospitality forums that helped devise the Hospitality Sector Protocols Document and have lobbied the Government directly to support the sector during closure. We welcomed the Government's extended support through a reduced VAT rate on certain supplies and the business rates holiday, in addition to the security of employment provided by the furlough scheme enabling us to continue to protect the vast majority of our employees.
The unprecedented challenges the industry has faced have had a damaging impact on market supply with a 7% decline in licensed premises, according to the March 2021 AlixPartners CGA Market Recovery Monitor. We believe that the platform of financial stability provided through the equity raise will leave us well placed to benefit from these changes in the competitive landscape.