Lifting Wales' Covid rules can't come soon enough for landlords after disastrous New Year

The Welsh Government's decision to begin easing Covid restrictions can't come soon enough for the hospitality trade.

BORDER PIC / DAVID HAMILTON PIC / SHROPSHIRE STAR PIC 22/4/21 Getting ready to welcome drinkers back to their beer garden, converted from an old car park, landlord Mark Jones, and landlady Chelly Jones, at Stanton House Inn, Chirk, Wrexham..
BORDER PIC / DAVID HAMILTON PIC / SHROPSHIRE STAR PIC 22/4/21 Getting ready to welcome drinkers back to their beer garden, converted from an old car park, landlord Mark Jones, and landlady Chelly Jones, at Stanton House Inn, Chirk, Wrexham..

Licensees on the Shropshire/Welsh border say their trade has been decimated by the lockdown rules put in place in Wales but not in England on Boxing day - with New Year a complete disaster.

Now they are hoping they can built their custom back up again.

The plan to return Wales to Alert Level Zero measures by the end of January has been set out by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

From Saturday, the number of people who can be present at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500. However it seemed unlikely that many Park Runs in Wales could go ahead with less than 24 hours notice.

If Omicron levels continue to fall restriction easing will continue, with Wales will move to alert level zero for all outdoor activities from Friday January 21, when there will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities.

Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events and outdoor hospitality would be able to operate without additional reasonable measures although the Covid Pass will be required for entry to larger outdoor events.

Mark Drakeford has set out the Welsh Government's plan for easing Covid rules

From the following Friday (January 28), nightclubs can re-open. Again, the Covid Pass will be required for entry, along with access to other indoor events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.

The rule of six, table service and two-metre physical distancing rules for hospitality will also be scrapped.

While welcoming the easing of restrictions, licensees said the damage had already been done with the busy between Christmas and New Year trade ruined.

Chelly Jones from the Stanton House Inn in Chirk said the pubs takings were down 50 per cent from before the latest restrictions.

"It's been absolutely dire," she said.

"We have never closed before 1am on New Year's Eve. This year we were shut by 10pm. No-one came out, not even for meals. They all went over to England. It didn't make any sense at all to imposed the rules on one side of the border and not the other.

"We have been really badly hit yet we have had no help at all from the Welsh Government. People have been too frightened to go out and yet the guidelines that we have to follow to be Covid Safe are unreal."

The Dolphin Inn, Llanymynech, is another pub to have been hit by the festive Covid regulations in Wales

The Dolphin Inn in Llanymynech is just a hundred yards or so into Wales.

Landlord, John Turner, said things have been dead in the pub since the Boxing Day restrictions were imposed.

"We have to put on additional staff because of the table service rules, but we don't know whether we are going to get people coming in.

"All the scaremongering has really affected trade. People are too scared to come out despite all the rules we have to follow."

"We really embraced the outdoor seating and spent an awful lot of money so that people could enjoy the better weather outdoor at the Dolphin."

"Now we are hoping that trade picks up again as the restrictions are lifted and confidence returns."

He said early planning had begun to put on events later in the year for Llanymynech.

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