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LOCKDOWN: Pub owners speak out ahead of restrictions easing

LOCKDOWN: Pub owners speak out ahead of restrictions easing

Image: LDRS

North East publicans have spoke out ahead of the lockdown easing that will see them able to let drinkers inside their premises for the first time in six months.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce today that England is proceeding to the next stage of his roadmap out of lockdown next week.

Under the next stage of the PM’s plan, expected to start on May 17, people will be able to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors, while six people or two households can meet indoors.

The BBC reported that people are also likely to be allowed to stay overnight with those not in their household or bubble.

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues such as cinemas and soft play areas are set to be permitted to reopen indoors.

Doug Musgrove, co-owner of the Lane Head in Ryton, looks forward to being able to welcome drinkers into the inside of his micropub.

He said that despite revamping its outdoor area his turnover has dropped to under 50% of what it was.

He said: “The change between what we’re doing this week and what we’re doing next week will hopefully be massive.

“We will have double the area where we can serve people. We invested in the out side area for people to drink in so hopefully we can recoup that.”

The publican said that in the absence of further guidance from the Government he will run his watering hole according to the Tier 4 restrictions seen before Christmas.

This includes screens between tables and table service only.

Mr Musgrove continued: “People have come back but not in droves so our turn over is less than 50% of what we normally take.

“People haven’t come back because its cold outside – even heaters at £350 a pop don’t help.

“I want to thank all our patrons who came back and sat outside in the cold weather and the damp – we really appreciate it.

“We have got a dozen who have come back and really enjoyed seeing each other.”

Dave  Carr, managing director of Frank and Bird, which operates the Brandling Villa and Punch Bowl pubs, in Gosforth and Jesmond respectively, said that the decision had come at the right time.

He said: “It’s what we have been waiting for to be honest. Pubs have really small margins, we can’t really work with [people only drinking in] a beer garden.

“We’re opening up on Monday [May 17] at midday. We have had plenty of time to prepare.”

Mr Carr said that the first few days of the eased restrictions could be “tense” as pubs work against stock and staffing problems.

He said: “A lot of people are going to be restricted on how much beer they can buy so will be a little short on stock and staff.

“It’s going to be much better than the last 12 months. We’re looking forward to returning to normality.”

Kirsty Foster, land lady at the Red Lion in Shildon, was sceptical saying the rules could be hard to make work for smaller establishments such has hers.

She added: “It’s going to be difficult. They say you can have six different people at a table from six different households but they have to be spaced out.

“For anyone with a pub such as mine it’s going to be practically impossible but we will have to see how it works.

“We’ll be opening at 11am. I am looking forward to seeing some regulars that don’t come out because of the cold weather – they will be able to come to the pub.”

 

Words: Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter


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