First minister has declared war on hospitality, hotelier says

An hotelier from the Shropshire border says the Welsh first minister has declared war on the hospitality trade.

Jonathan Greatorex
Jonathan Greatorex

Jonathan Greatorex, owner of The Hand at Llanarmon, has called on others in the industry to travel to Cardiff to make their feelings known to the Welsh Government.

In a frustrated outburst after hearing Mark Drakeford announce that pubs and hotels would not be able to service alcohol and would have to close at 6pm, Mr Greatorex said: "We are trying to make a living here.

"On Sunday we had 11 tables in the bar with people all safe and socially distanced. What it going to happen now, people will just buy alcohol and go round to each other's houses. The hospitality trade needs to go down to Cardiff in their cars and gridlock the government building."

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Mr Greatorex, who welcomes tourists from across the world to the Hand as well as his regulars, said pubs and restaurants were among the safest places to be.

"Figures for transmission are 18.3 per cent for supermarkets, 12.7 per cent in secondary schools yet just 1.5 per cent for pubs and one per cent, restaurants. This is a disproportionate attack on us. The first minister has declared war on hospitality in Wales. It shows just what little regard he holds this industry in."

Frustration

"The Hand is the hub of the community and in the first lockdown we fed the community at below cost to keep everyone safe. Now we are furloughing our staff again just at the time when they are saving for their own Christmas."

The hotelier's frustration as the blanket approach to the hospitality lockdown was echoed by Montgomeryshire MP, Russell George.

"It will unfairly affect parts of the country like Powys where infection rates are significantly lower than others, and will harm the sector to such an extent that large parts of it may not recover. This is after they have invested hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of pounds on making their premises as safe as possible.

“With the best will in the world, and especially in the run-up to Christmas, if pubs and cafes cannot sell alcohol with meals, it could encourage people to drink at home and in groups. All the evidence so far has shown that these sorts of interactions are generally more likely to be a cause of transmission.”

Welshpool county councillor, Graham Breeze, said: "The ban on selling alcoholic drinks is a real kick in the teeth for the local publicans and they must have clarity on what compensation packages they will be entitled to.

"Many publicans have gone the extra mile to ensure customer safety at their own personal cost and they are not receiving any information about how they will be compensated.

"It is imperative that Welsh Government gives some clarity on how the compensation package will be administered as a matter of urgency.

"I feel for those publicans who are barely making a living as a result of the restrictions already imposed and I fear many pub doors will be closed permanently. This news comes at a time when those in the hospitality trade would normally be enjoying their best takings of the year in the run up to the festive season."

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