Local restrictions ‘hard pill to swallow’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Reaction: businesses in areas with localised restrictions have said they are looking at switching their offers to make up for reduced trade
Reaction: businesses in areas with localised restrictions have said they are looking at switching their offers to make up for reduced trade

Related tags: Coronavirus

Publicans have reacted to local restrictions with one saying he felt penalised for others’ negligence to follow rules properly.

Some 1,553 pubs will be affected by 10pm curfew measures in Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.

The measures - which mandate pubs to operate table service only and ban households mixing - were announced after a significant rise in cases in the region.

Stuart Crane is head chef at the Hastings Arms in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland and worries the measures will encourage people to gather in private homes.

“We just think they’ll end up going to someone's house and not stick by the rules,” he said.

Like many pubs across the sector, the Hastings has been following Government regulations to the letter.

Hard pill

However, Crane says customers occasionally questioned the rules given complacency at other venues.

“People were coming in and saying ‘it’s not like this down the road’," he explained. "But if we stick to rules we could get out of this a lot sooner”

He described the extra measures as “a hard pill to swallow at the moment” because of this.

His pub will adapt to the rules banning households from socalising by putting on more family deals to try and encourage households out.

But the measures will hit his daytime trade which was just returning, the chef said.

“People who have free time on their hands were slowly starting to come out again.”

Supportive customers

Restrictions in the north east followed news of a similar 11pm restriction in the Welsh county of Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Marsha Ward operates the Taffs Well Inn on the border of Rhondda Cynon Taf and said she expects to lose a proportion of her customer base as residents are not allowed to leave the county.

“We have been working extremely hard since reopening to ensure we are meeting as many of the regulations as possible whilst still ensuring that our little Welsh Inn is a welcoming and friendly place to be," she said. "It is quite a balance to enforce measures and be welcoming, so this has been a learning curve for us all.”

However, Ward is optimistic the pub can weather another storm.

She said: “Our customers have shown their support and takings are up as a result."

The Morning Advertiser's (MA)​ managing editor Nic Robinson told BBC Breakfast the Government needed to “step in and give more support” to save these jobs.

“It [further restrictions] could potentially be devastating for the hospitality sector in general, pubs specifically," he said.

“We're lost, we don't know what's going to happen. We need more support from the Government. There's lots of jobs at risk."

Real worry

Robinson added: "If we close pubs earlier in the evening, what's that going to mean? More people coming to pubs at an earlier time? Will there be bottlenecks? It's a real worry for the industry.”

Readers shared concerns about managing crowds on social media. One commented, "So then everyone leaves the pub at the same time and it's chaos at the kebab shops etc," while others shared concerns of house parties.

What's more, national chairman of CAMRA Nik Antona said the restrictions could cause irreparable damage to pubs who had been “doing the right thing” and operating responsibility.

He explained: “Ministers should now provide evidence that curfews and restrictions on who you can go to the pub with will be effective in reducing transmission of Covid-19, as well as emphasising that it’s still safe to go to the pub with your own household if you follow the rules.

"Otherwise, we could see a huge financial impact on viable pubs who are already operating under much tighter restrictions than other businesses, with no positive effect on controlling the virus."

Related topics: Events & Occasions

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