Welsh pubs consider indefinite closure after lockdown

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Not viable: publicans have said current restrictions mean they may not reopen immediately after the lockdown in Wales
Not viable: publicans have said current restrictions mean they may not reopen immediately after the lockdown in Wales

Related tags: Wales, Welsh pub, ukhospitality, British beer & pub association, Bbpa, lockdown, Legislation, Health and safety

A number of Welsh pubs have said they may not reopen immediately after a brief Government ordered shutdown.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced pubs will have to close from Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November in a “short, sharp” circuit break to curb rising coronavirus infection rates.

Publicans said localised lockdown measures have made trading so difficult they will remain closed even after the 17-day of enforced closure is up.

For much of Wales, residents are banned from meeting up with different households indoors and are not allowed to leave their locality unless it is for essential journeys such as going to work or school. 

Operator Lara Joslin runs the Kings Head in Gower and told The Morning Advertiser​ the past few months had been “an emotional rollercoaster”.

She explained: “We have been in local lockdown, had the curfew introduced. So sales have been massively reduced, from £50,000 to £13,000 in the first 2 weeks of October.”

Now, the site faces total closure, as it did in March and Joslin is unsure of whether she will reopen in November.

Felt like March

Local restrictions on socialising have left her business in a situation that is “just not viable,” she said.

Sandra Hughes is in the same boat with her pub Neuadd Fawr Arms​, in Cilycwm, Carmarthenshire, but has already decided to call last orders.

In a Facebook post, she said: “Hospitality isn’t an industry that can open and close without planning.”

She told punters one night takings were – £125.57 – the pub was losing money staying open.

“The last month we have been trading at less than 30% compared to last year and last night was reminiscent of March when Boris told people to avoid pubs and restaurants,” the status said.

They added: “We would rather not limp through the winter with an unviable business. It’s soul destroying!”

The Welsh Government has outlined a £300m economic resilience fund but trade bodies are concerned this will not go far enough.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) is calling for cash grants to fully cover lost revenue and high fixed costs for all pubs including those with a rateable value above £50,000. Suppliers should be eligible for grants too, as they will face a significant loss of income.

Fighting for survival 

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “This ‘fire break’ in Wales will destroy many pubs, brewers and their supply chains in the country unless the financial support package is available to all businesses hit by the forced closure of all pubs.

“There are more than 3,000 pubs in Wales already struggling with the 10pm curfew, rule of six, lower levels of consumer confidence and tourism in addition to the more recent travel ban. A forced full closure will leave many of them fighting for their very survival.”

She added: “The financial support package announced today leaves many businesses impacted by this forced closure with no additional help. 

“The Welsh Government must now urgently do the right thing and extend the availability of the full financial support package to all pubs no matter what their rateable value is, as well as to brewers and pubs’ other suppliers. This is to ensure they survive this fire break lockdown and will be able to serve their communities and to support thousands of local jobs and livelihoods once more."

Severe blow

What’s more, UKHospitality Cymru executive director for Wales, David Chapman said it was encouraging to see some specific support for hospitality businesses in Wales.

He added it was vital details on the financial support available to pubs and restaurants were given as soon as possible.

“Another lockdown, even a short one such as this, is a severe blow to Welsh hospitality and tourism. If it has to happen, though, it is very encouraging to see the First Minister single out hospitality for support,” Chapman said.

After the lockdown, the Government should review current restrictions on opening hours and work with the sector to defeat the virus, the trade body stated.

Chapman said: “Hospitality is part of the solution, not the problem, to keeping Covid-19 at bay. 

"We can lead on safe socialising, helping make sure people across Wales can meet friends and family safely in a licensed, protected environment."

Related topics: Legislation

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