Reopen Bolton pubs, Government urged

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Reopening calls: there have been calls to reopen hospitality in Bolton
Reopening calls: there have been calls to reopen hospitality in Bolton

Related tags: Coronavirus, Legislation, Bolton

There have been calls to reopen pubs in Bolton in line with national policy on hospitality venues.

Publicans and politicians have called on the Government to reopen pubs with other towns now reporting similar infection rates to those seen in Bolton when its venues were ordered to close.

Hospitality businesses in the town were closed down on 8 September and given a curfew of 10pm-5am for takeaway services after it reported the highest proportion of cases in the country.

Injustice

The infection rate in Bolton currently stands at 231.6 per 100,000 people according to the latest figures from Public Health England (for the week ending 25 September).

When pubs were closed in the town, the most recent seven day infection rate was 128.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Figures also show that 26 areas in England now have a higher proportion of cases than Bolton did when its pubs were ordered to close.

The town has the highest infection rate in Greater Manchester still but is now only the fifth highest in the country.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham called the shutdown an "injustice" in a tweet. He said: "This is the problem with local restrictions. Once they’re in, they tend to stay in.

"And the longer they’re in, the more the anomalies/injustices grow. Either Ministers close hospitality in places with high cases with compensation. Or let Bolton’s open today. It’s that simple."

Businesses ordered to close in local restrictions can apply for a grant of up to £1,000 for every three weeks closed​ but some publicans say more support is needed.

Jon-Paul Nolan, operates the wet-led House Without A Name pub in the town and said he was unsure any changes would be made soon.

He told The Morning Advertiser​: "We’ve battened down the hatches. Nothing is happening.

"I agree with closing until the virus subsides - if it ever does. I don’t agree we should open on the same rules as neighbouring boroughs just because they are open." 

Bitter pill

Nolan added: "I would be more in support of neighbouring boroughs with high infection rates closing like we are, so long as we all receive financial assistance in addition to what has been offered already.

"This remuneration is unlikely I feel so I can completely understand calls from fellow businesses to reopen as soon as possible.

"The majority of us were already working to the tighter restrictions brought in anyway. We were already doing table service only. Most of the week we were closed by 10pm anyway.

"We are also in one of the areas with the lowest reported infection rates so it is a bitter pill to swallow - especially when I see regular customers driving a mile or two to a neighbouring borough for a pint in a pub that is open in a neighbouring borough. 

"I stand with fellow businesses but I doubt any petition or pressure on council or government will achieve anything."

Virus risk

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition calling on authorities to lift the restrictions.

The petition reads: "The decision to close Bolton’s hospitality industry has only served to encourage Bolton residents into neighbouring towns. This makes no sense! If the idea was to stop residents from socialising and spreading the virus it’s failed!

"All that is happening is residents are socialising in towns whose pubs and restaurants are not closed, thereby potentially spreading the virus further afield, and ruining local businesses!"

Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh has called on the Government to allow pubs in the town to operate again.

Related topics: Legislation

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