Pub landlords in England have said new coronavirus rules will cost them thousands of pounds and risk some locals being “lost forever”.
Many publicans have had to quickly reshape their businesses after the Government announced on Tuesday, that from Thursday pubs, bars and restaurants will be table-service only and subject to a 10pm closing time.
Stuart Seydel, the landlord at the Old Duke in Bristol, said he had already spent thousands of pounds encasing his establishment’s bar in protective perspex but now must retrain his staff to wait tables.
“For several months we’ve been training now and we’ve set up a kind of bubble around the bar to keep them safe,” the 45-year-old told the PA news agency.
“Now we have to send them out from beyond that to go and give table service… in my opinion, it’s making the workplace less safe.
“With less than 48 hours notice, we suddenly have to completely change the way we operate… and we’re losing two hours of our prime trading time. It’s ridiculous.”
Mr Seydel said his pub usually closes at 12pm so the 10pm curfew could cost them “several thousand” per week.
Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said the new measures pose a “very, very real risk” to pubs and their staff.
“I think communities are going to see their locals lost forever,” he said.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association, added: “During the current circumstances every hour of trading is crucial to the survival of pubs – for many this curfew will render their businesses unviable.
“The Government now needs to act fast in putting together a comprehensive support package to ensure that thousands of pubs don’t close their doors for good.”
James Dodd, a landlord for a pub in Cheshire which he did not wish to be named, has had to employ five new part-time staff to deal with the new table service requirements.
Mr Dodd, from Altrincham, said he believes his pub will survive but worries others in his area will go bust as so much of their business takes place after 9pm.
“I don’t think the Government realise that this flimsy measure, which arguably will have little effect on the virus, will have catastrophic implications for the industry,” he told PA.
Mr Dodd said it would have been preferable for pubs to be shut down fully for a two-week period rather than the Government’s “half cut” measure which it has been warned could last six months.
Thomas Holodynsky runs a number of pubs across Nottingham and said the measures are “ill-thought out” and “another nail in the coffin” for the industry.
“It feels like the week leading up to pubs closing in March where Boris Johnson told the nation to avoid pubs, without actually closing us,” added the 35-year-old.
Anthony Goodrich, who runs the Rose & Crown in Snettisham, Norfolk, said he felt smaller pubs are being punished for their larger counterparts in city centres.
“You do see pictures of big pubs and clubs maybe in the cities where there clearly seem to be hundreds of people very close to each other and I think that’s the area where maybe the whole industry is being penalised for,” Mr Goodrich said.
He added that he feels the changes will have little effect on his business as the pub has only been open until 10pm since pubs reopened in July.