Outdoor serving only not realistic for many pubs, Newport landlord warns

Many pubs will find it difficult to reopen under stringent Covid rules post-lockdown, one landlord predicted.

Darren Wood of the New Inn
Darren Wood of the New Inn

The plan for getting out of lockdown is England has at least provided some clarity to landlords hoping for a successful summer of drinking.

Darren Wood of the New Inn in Newport spoke after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the 'road map' for recovering from the latest coronavirus lockdown. He announced that pubs, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to start serving people outdoors from mid-April, and if the virus remains under control, indoor seating could return in May.

Mr Wood 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.

"Opening once again with limited capacity and stringent rules makes it very hard to be viable, therefore it would be good to hear if there will be any support in terms of the furlough extension, and grants for the next stage of reopening.

"Trade will be hard and I feel that after the initial clamour to get down to the pub this may well subside – the evenings in April go cold early, and we can never predict the English weather, so staffing, rota issues and bookings for drinks and food become very hard to manage.

"We will await more new on the rules before making our final decision and timescales for reopening, but all in all we remain positive and look forward to being able to open the pub once again, see our loyal customers and have some interaction with people once again, that has probably been the hardest part – if you're in this trade you generally like mixing with people, and have social interaction.

"All in all, positive news in terms of the end of the tunnel being closer, but we cannot quite see the end of the tunnel just yet.

"A very hard year ahead for the trade still to get back on its feet, and more Government support required for the rest of the year in terms of VAT reductions and business rates hopefully being suspended."

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