‘We’re good to go but it’s a matter of when’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Community-focused: the operator of a real ale pub has described how she misses customers and hopes her peers will stay afloat amid the crisis
Community-focused: the operator of a real ale pub has described how she misses customers and hopes her peers will stay afloat amid the crisis

Related tags: Coronavirus

The operator of a real ale pub has said she fears pubs like hers will struggle to stay afloat in the months to come.

Kathryn Boam runs the Dog & Parrot, Eastwood in Nottinghamshire and is worried that many independent pubs will not be able to afford to reopen this summer.

She is determined to keep going despite worries that social distancing will mean it will be difficult to keep staffing costs down and trade will be low, owing to restrictions and a lack of consumer confidence.

She said: “We're good to go but it's a matter of when we can go and we'll be guided by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Once we get a date that will be good.”

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) urged the Government to urgently set out a date for when beer gardens will be allowed to open​, after speculation that beer gardens could open on 22 June. The business secretary Alok Sharma later said 4 July would be the earliest date for reopening​. The industry has continued to call for immediate clarity on a reopening date and guidance.

Community spirit

Boam said she had stocked personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene equipment in addition to considering how staff would be allocated jobs on shift, ahead of the publication of a finalised document of guidance for pubs.

She said she was worried about the impact of social distancing and damaged consumer confidence would be on her business and other pubs in the area in the months ahead.

The publican explained: “It's a little old mining town, and there are three or four pubs that we have become friends with over the years. 

“We all work together and if anyone has problems we help out. It's that type of community, each of the pubs are not rivals, we're all friends. 

"Some of them only have a capacity of 20 to 30, they probably only have one toilet, and so could maybe only be allowed 10 people in [with social distancing measures]. We feel for all of them.”

The pub has been doing takeaways for the community, meaning that Boam and her husband David have often been the only point of contact for many isolated individuals in the town.

Isolated customers

She explained: “We might be the only face they see during the day, which is nice. It is hurting us because we can see them, they haven't seen anyone and we just want to stand and talk. We can talk outside so we will walk 2m apart on the street [with them].

“When you're behind the bar, you're everything, therapist, a doctor, a friend. We put different hats on for different days. 

“It is difficult because when you are not seeing those people you feel it yourself and you wonder how they are going to be feeling. I have got a few customers' phone numbers to call and check up and see if their family has been to see them.”

She said real ale pubs had brought a community feel into towns and cities and there was the potential that huge numbers of them could be lost.

Boam added: “People can only take so much for so long and they could fold, which would be a great shame. 

“There's something slightly different [at real ale pubs] and if you don't want to go to a bog-standard pub, where you have loud music and TVs, [at real ale pubs] you can sit and talk to people."

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