Welsh pubs left in the dark over inside reopening

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Some clarity: pubs in Wales still have not been given a date for inside reopening but can open their beer gardens from Monday 13 July
Some clarity: pubs in Wales still have not been given a date for inside reopening but can open their beer gardens from Monday 13 July

Related tags: Coronavirus

Welsh pubs have been told they can open outdoors from 13 July but still do not have a reopening date for indoor service, which operators say has left them in the dark.

The nation’s publicans have not been given a date for when they will be able to serve punters inside, unlike other areas of the UK.

Reacting after a press conference led by the Welsh minister for international relations, Baroness Eluned Morgan today (Thursday 2 July), trade body UKHospitality (UKH) said the sector needed more clarity.

UKH executive director for Wales David Chapman said: “While premises remain closed or partially open without the surety of a full opening date, the spectre of large numbers of redundancies hangs over the industry and the vulnerable communities it serves across Wales.

“Businesses are unable to formally plan for bringing back staff and anticipating revenues, and they are facing squarely the end of vital financial support. They are reporting the possibility of around 35-40 per cent redundancies in our sector.

“We need clarification of the opening date to give businesses confidence. We also need a refreshed and substantial support package to help our businesses to operate to the highest level possible so that they can retain as many of their workforce as possible.”

Many pub operators have said they will wait for the green light to open up inside before relaunching their operations including JD Wetherspoon.

Pub group and brewer S.A. Brain is one of the cautious companies. Their chief executive Alistair Darby described the lack of clarity as "nightmarish" and said it did not want to open up any of its managed pubs until permitted to open all areas.

He said: "We are very unlikely to be opening many or any of our pubs to take advantage of that [permission to open outside] because we think trying to operate a pub outdoors only is practically very difficult and economically challenging - the maths wont add up."

However, the news has delighted some other publicans.

Sarah Watts-Jones operates the Hare & Hounds in Aberthin and said she would be able to use the site's large garden and car park with two-metres distancing between tables.

She said: "We’re happy with outdoor only, as long as the weather holds up. We would have probably done that anyway, as it phases us more gently into re-opening and it’s safer for our team while they get used to this new way of working. We would hope that within that first week of being open outside we’d have a date for inside as well, but with a large outdoor space we’re fairly ok."

The Welsh Government said its reopening of hospitality will take a phased approach with moving on to the next stage dependent on whether coronavirus cases continue to fall.

Steven Alton, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) said: “We are pleased that there has been a movement towards reopening for our Welsh members who have a viable outdoor space. Without clear guidance as to how they manage that however, and with no date announced for welcoming guests indoors, many will be unable to plan for their businesses to come out of hibernation.

"Clarity is needed to ensure they can bring their teams safely back to work, but also to enable them to assess the costs involved in a partial opening of their venues to the public. For many, opening with this level of restriction still in place will mean making a huge loss that they simply cannot sustain."

Lockdown lifting

The nation is preparing to ease its lockdown from Monday 6 July with retailers opening and travel restrictions lifted.

It is still subject to a two-metre social distancing requirement, which the pub sector has said makes profitable trading incredibly difficult for many operators.

However, there has been speculation Welsh ministers are considering permitting a one-metre plus requirement for hospitality venues operating outdoors, similar to in England, according to BBC Wales​.

It comes as pubs in England are preparing to reopen inside from Saturday 4 July, with one-metre plus social distancing and other Covid-secure measures in place.

Related topics: Legislation

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