Welsh pubs try to capture last of summer trade

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Warm welcome: pubs in Wales can serve customers indoors for the first time since the Government shut pubs in the UK down in March
Warm welcome: pubs in Wales can serve customers indoors for the first time since the Government shut pubs in the UK down in March

Related tags: Coronavirus, Health and safety, Legislation, Wales

Pubs in Wales can reopen indoors from today after they were the last in the UK to be permitted to reopen fully.

Pubgoers have been able to visit beer gardens from 13 July but for many sites it was not possible to operate with capacity limited.

Welsh policymakers did not take heed of calls to move the opening date forward to Friday 31 July​ to give pubs a chance to maximise their summer trade.

Trade bodies highlighted that Welsh pubs had been put in a difficult position and would need further funding to see them through a challenging winter period without having their usual summer trade to support them.

Rebuild trade

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “This is a moment of excitement and relief for our sector in what has been a very difficult period. We only hope the decision by the Welsh Government hasn’t come too late in avoiding mass closures of pubs in Wales, as they are the last to fully reopen anywhere in the UK and quite a bit behind other pubs too.  

“Pubs in Wales will now be looking to make the most of the summer to get back to business and rebuild their trade. Obviously continued support from Government for pubs and brewers across the UK, including those in Wales, is still going to be needed in the short and medium term. Such support will help ensure our pubs get back on their feet properly and play the leading role they can in our economic recovery.

Devastating impact

UKHospitality executive director for Wales, David Chapman said the body was pushing for additional funding for businesses in the nation impacted by an extended closure period.

He added: “This is a welcome and really positive step forward for Welsh hospitality businesses which have been hit very hard by this crisis. Our sector plays a big part in local economies all around Wales, so getting the sector back up and running is going to be crucial.

“We are also in advanced and positive discussions with Welsh Government, who recognise our arguments around the devastating impact of a loss of the season and restrictive opening, to seek additional targeted rescue funding support for the tourism and hospitality sector in Wales.”

Laughter and banter

The Wern Inn in Swansea has been operating outside, with an investment of £20,000 into the garden to accommodate customers who feel more comfortable drinking outside. Publican Hayley Lewis highlighted how regulars were excited for the inside to reopen again.

She said: “The Wern is the heart of the community, so residents were gutted when we had to close. We’ve got a loyal following of older regulars who’ve been coming to the Wern for well over 20 years.

"Many of them are cautious about going out and will be more comfortable inside the pub. They’re looking forward to coming back and enjoying some much needed laughter and banter.”

Brains Brewery was one of the businesses to hold off on reopening all its sites until indoor use was permitted. “The maths won’t add up,” said chief executive Alistair Darby when the phased reopening was announced​.

It is set to reopen its 40 managed pubs today​ and expects most of its partnered sites to do so as well.

Related topics: Health & safety

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