Outdoors-only could be 'death knell' for pubs, warns Shrewsbury landlord

Outdoors-only opening could be the "death knell" for a lot of pubs, according to a Shrewsbury landlord.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson 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.

It comes as welcome news that a return for the trade is finally on the horizon, but concerns have been raised over whether venues will have to open outdoors and miss out on support they have been receiving.

Ian Payne, landlord of the Prince of Wales, in Belle Vue, Shrewsbury, said his pub would struggle to break even just serving outdoors, and believes it would be more sensible to only open when indoor serving is allowed.

He said: "Who's going to want to be drinking outdoors when it's cold and wet? I know we had a really nice April last year but normally it gets cold later on.

"I'd rather they just waited until May and let us open indoor as well, whether that be with 1m distancing, we could make it work. It worked well in the summer. Pubs are going to struggle to break even just opening outdoors. If you can open you don't get the support from government. It could be the death knell for a lot of pubs. They're just going to have to try and get through until May when they can open indoors again."

He added: "It might be alright on a Saturday or Sunday but it's no good on a wet Tuesday evening. We rely on the bowls during the week and that probably won't be back for a while. A lot of our regulars stayed away when we came back last summer. Hopefully they'll have a bit more confidence to come back (due to the vaccine roll out).

"We're a real ale pub and we'd normally have five or six different beers on. But it's difficult to do that if you haven't got the customers coming in to drink it because you're running on a reduced capacity."

Ollie Parry, of The Salopian Bar in Smithfield Road, Shrewsbury, said his pub wouldn't be opening until indoor trade is permitted.

"Our outdoor space is minimal so we won't be opening. he said. "There's no money in opening. You can't rely on the British weather.

"We'll open further down the line when restrictions change to allow indoor."

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