Pubs 'scapegoat' for second wave, publican says

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Support urged: a publican has shared her anxiety about further coronavirus restrictions.
Support urged: a publican has shared her anxiety about further coronavirus restrictions.

Related tags: Coronavirus

An operator in one of the areas of England hit by localised coronavirus measures has shared her anxiety about worsening trade and uncertainty over further restrictions.

Publican Lindsey Armstrong told The Morning Advertiser (The MA)​ her site in Washington, Tyne & Wear had suffered a 50% drop in trade over the weekend, following a tightening of measures in the north east.

Although the Champs Sports Bar and Grill has been operating until 10pm – the new hospitality curfew time for lots of areas in the north – since July, the pub has already felt the impact of a ban on households mixing.

The pub has followed guidance correctly with screens between the bar and customers and even introduced a temperature checking system a few weeks ago after cases in the area rose.

However, Armstrong feels pubs have been unfairly blamed for the sharp rise in cases despite the vast majority being dedicated to Covid-secure procedures.

Her words come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the UK it was about to enter a second wave of the virus and the Government's scientific advisers warned the nation could see 50,000 new virus cases a day by mid-October without additional measures.

Pubs penalised

Armstrong said: “There will be a small minority [of pubs] that [have] not [followed the rules] and unfortunately, the ones that are operating correctly are being penalised because of the ones that are not. We are just being made a scapegoat for the whole Covid-19 crisis. It's not just people in pubs and restaurants that are where the cases are coming from."

In her experience, people have not been following regulations such as the ‘rule of six’ or localised restrictions on socialising with other households.

“The hospitality trade is the one that gets penalised for that. It’s not fair at all,” the publican said.

She is worried about the impact on her 23-strong team of staff and has already had to reduce their hours in light of the drop off in people coming to the pub to watch matches with their friends.

“It’s not just the pub that's suffering, it’s everybody that works in it,” she added.

Staff fears

Nine staff members were employed when the pub reopened in July and so do not qualify for the furlough scheme.

“That worry preys on my mind,” Armstrong said. “I like to look after my staff and make sure they are okay.”

Armstrong said she had experienced “constant sleepless nights and constant worry” and was worried about the prospect of being ordered to close.

Like many in the trade, she is anxiously awaiting for further announcements from the Government on any more measures restricting pubs.

“Everybody who runs a pub is in exactly the same position. It’s just awful, there's no end in sight.”

Related topics: Legislation

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