New Welsh restrictions a hammer blow for border businesses

Confusion over different coronavirus rules on the Shropshire/Wrexham border is causing economic hardship and personal upset.

Paul Rogers in the refurbished Castle Lounge, at Hand Hotel, before new restrictions were announced
Paul Rogers in the refurbished Castle Lounge, at Hand Hotel, before new restrictions were announced

People in the town of Chirk and the Ceiriog valley as well as villages all along the north Shropshire border were today coming to terms with new restrictions that will be enforced at 6pm today.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants face a massive drop in businesses as people won’t be able to cross the Shropshire or Denbighshire borders to visit, while locals can no longer sit with those outside their immediate family.

Paul Rogers of the Hand Hotel in Chirk said his accommodation had been fully booked last week.

“Now 95 per cent of people have cancelled for this weekend, because they are from outside the county and I am guessing that our restaurant booking will be about 50 per cent down.”

Mr Rogers, who gave free rooms to NHS workers wanting to isolate from their families at the height of the pandemic, said the new restrictions were a “hammer blow”.

“In July, August and September we were really busy and with the Eat Out to Help out so popular we brought our staff off furlough. We can’t re-furlough them and yet the new job retention scheme doesn’t come into force until November 1. I just don’t know how we will cope.”

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Lisa Hanlon, manager of the nearby Chirk Bistro, said she hoped it was a very short-term measure and that the restrictions would soon be lifted.

“We have invested in Covid safety equipment, we have the track and trace in place yet now we have more restrictions,” she said.

Chirk residents say the new rules are causing problems for all ages. Chris Parkinson said his 14-year-old son Charlie could continue to go to school in Llangollen but not play or train for his football team, Corwen FC under 15s, because he couldn’t cross counties.

Janet Evans from Highfields said she was now banned from seeing her sons in Oswestry.

“I am supposed to be going to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on Saturday to spend the night with my granddaughter so her mum can have a night at home with her other children for the first time in over three weeks. It’s just all so heartbreaking,” she said.

Virtual London Marathon runners from both sides of the border have also had their plans to run their 26.2 miles along the Llangollen Canal scuppered.

Well over a dozen members of the Oswestry Girls on the Run group had planned their runs on the World Heritage Site length of the canal from Shropshire, over the Chirk and Pontcysyllte aqueducts to Llangollen and back on Sunday raising money for several different charities. Now they are having to plot new routes.

New restrictions for border are a joke says publican

Publican Nigel Edwards, who runs the Tavern in Chirk, says new lockdown rules will have a huge impact on people and businesses

The tough new Covid restrictions have been labelled a joke by a publican who says everyone from young soccer players to the elderly, as well as businesses, will be hit.

The local lockdown from 6pm will stop cross-border visits and prevent those living in the Wrexham County Borough from meeting up with other households indoors.

Nigel Edwards, licensee of the Tavern, the former Royal British Legion premises, in Chirk, said it affected all aspects of his trade.

And he said the league-topping Chirk Football Club, based at the pub, which had only just got the go-ahead to play again, has had its plans scuppered.

“All our pool and darts matches will have to be cancelled and we can’t even put on our popular bingo nights, which the older members of the community had only just started coming back to," he said.

"Many of them live alone and this was one evening when they could meet up with friends.”

Chirk councillors Terry Evans and Frank Hemmings said they hoped the new restrictions would be temporary, a short sharp shock to nip the rise in cases in the bud.

Councillor Evans said: “I would hope residents will support their local businesses at a time that is going to once again be very difficult for them.”

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