Pubs 'will go bust' if we face another lockdown

A pub landlord will open his beer garden in April – but warned his venue and others will go bust if the nation faces another lockdown.

James Hopkins from The Brooklands pub, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, has been giving the new outdoor bar a lick of paint
James Hopkins from The Brooklands pub, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, has been giving the new outdoor bar a lick of paint

James Hopkins, who runs The Brooklands in Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, is getting ready to welcome back regulars at the earliest opportunity, despite the fact the pub will probably lose money while it can only trade outdoors.

Under the government’s current roadmap, pubs can open outdoors from mid-April, and if all goes to plan, people will be allowed indoors in mid-May.

James is currently in the process of trying to set up his outdoor bar, and despite the financial pressures, is looking forward to welcoming people back.

He said: “Our intention is to open anyway because we’re a community pub. The whole of Meole Estate and Meole Village wants us to open so that’s what we’re going to do.

“If we run table service outside we’ll need at least three people on. If we’ve only got four people in the beer garden drinking, it’s not going to pay for those staff.”

He is thankful for having a bit more time to prepare compared to last year, but is hoping to see more guidance in terms of how they can operate.

“For example, whether venues can let people in to use toilets.

“Last summer when we reopened, whatever we put in place we had to change again within a week.

“This year is better in terms of them giving us time, but we still haven’t had a list saying this is A) what you can do, and B) what you can’t do.

“We’re not an outside pub. Somewhere like The Boathouse will do well because they’ve got it all set up outside already. But others are having to adapt.

“It would benefit me to stay shut. We don’t have to open. I don’t think the industry should have come back until September last year and I’d prefer if they had left it until May this year.

"If we have another lockdown, I’ll go bust. I bet there will be a lot of others who will too.”

Frustration

Newport landlord Darren Wood, of the New Inn, believes many pubs will find it difficult to reopen under the stringent new rules.

He said: “It will be very hard for a large number of pubs to reopen, many of them have no outdoor trading space and others don’t have enough space to make it viable.

"At the New Inn we are fortunate that we have a reasonably-sized garden, one that could accommodate in the region of 70 people all socially distanced.

"The concern at this stage for us personally is that the capacity of 70 is seating six people on every table, this is something that never happens in normal trading situations, let alone if the rules are only from two households – this could dramatically lessen our possible numbers outside.

“We will be waiting for some clearer guidelines to be published by Government before we commit to our decision and timing of reopening.”

Shane Parr, director at Stonehouse Brewery, near Oswestry, said they were relieved at the prospect of being able to welcome back customers to their beer garden on April 12, but said frustration within the industry remained.

He said: “The margins in hospitality are tight anyway, If you have to take on extra staff, close at 10pm, all these little things, and reacting to new rules every week, that takes time and costs money.”

Mr Parr said ongoing support would be needed for pubs, even after they open up, to repair the damage caused over the past year. He said: “The industry needs to reopen as soon as it can and beyond that there needs to be support because of the impact of the past year

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