FOR many of us, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned pub – one where the only special on the blackboard is a guest ale.
No avocado on toast, no burger and chips at the bar, no fancy pizza oven in the spot where the pool table and darts board used to be.
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But pubs which are only there for the beers are about to be picked on by the Government. While boozers that serve punters a “substantial meal” will be allowed to open in coronavirus Tier One and Tier Two from next Wednesday, those that do not will only be allowed to pull on their pumps in Tier One.
These ongoing Covid-19 restrictions mean “wet” pubs stand to lose on average £47,000 next month, it is estimated, and for many this is a hit that could bleed them dry. The latest rules have baffled publicans, who have not been told why coronavirus is less likely to circulate in establishments that have kitchens than ones that do not.
They are also angry that after forking out thousands of pounds on safety precautions to meet previous government guidelines, they now face being left heavily out of pocket yet again.
Here, five publicans demand the Government calls time on the meal rule so doors can reopen.
Five publicans demand the Government calls time on the meal rule so doors can reopen before facing ruin[/caption]
MICHAELA HICKEY, manager of the Waterloo Tap in South London
“BEFORE going into Tier Two, the pub was doing surprisingly well – we were still doing two thirds of our normal trade.
“Now it is almost certain London will be back in Tier Two and, unless we find a way to serve food, we won’t be able to open.
“It is heartbreaking. Staying open is vital for the survival of the company, and what baffles me is there doesn’t seem to be anything to back up the changes.
“There aren’t any statistics to say it will be safer for people to drink a pint with food than without. You can have outdoor and indoor sporting events with big crowds, yet you can’t go for a socially distanced pint.”
TREVOR SUMMERHILL, landlord of the Olde Cottage, Chester
“THE restrictions that pubs had to deal with prior to the second lockdown were devastating enough.
“I have been here for 19 years and we were a busy pub, which was shoulder-to-shoulder on a weekend before the pandemic.
“But when the most recent restrictions came in, which stopped people going to the pub with anyone outside their household bubble, we were down to eight people a night. Under Tier Two, our take was down by £5,000 but the offer of support from the Government was £850.
“Now they are saying we have to serve a substantial meal in order to open, but the outlay for a kitchen, freezers and chefs would be too much for us.
“Who is advising the Government on these rules?
“It’s clearly not professional people who understand how pubs are run. The business just isn’t viable any more.”
JULIE CARRINGTON, landlady of The High House, Swinton, South Yorks
“WE are the hub of our community, as there are no shops. Although it hasn’t been economically viable for us to open, I have done it because locals rely on us.
“It is safer at the moment for people to meet in pubs than in households, which is where they will go if we are not here.
“In our pub, drinkers are regulated. They are told where to sit, they wear their masks when they go to the toilet and we clean down the tables regularly.
“We have spent a lot of money on cleaning materials and protective barriers and have employed a waiter to provide table service. We have made sure to take the contacts of everyone coming in and have kept to the 10pm curfew.
“It is very unlikely pubs are the cause of the virus being transmitted.
“What I want from the Prime Minister is for him to let us open next week with sensible restrictions.”
MATT TODD, landlord of the Wonston Arms, in Wonston, Hants
“I AM angry at the way pubs are being treated by the Government – it’s not a level playing field.
“I have a Covid-secure, covered outdoor drinking area with heaters I spent £6,000 building for my customers so they would be able to keep dry in autumn and winter.
“Customers don’t want to sit inside the pub – they feel safer outside because scientists say the virus is less likely to spread outdoors.
“But now the Government won’t even allow us to serve drinks outside if we end up in Tier Two or Tier Three.
“What I would ask Boris Johnson is, ‘Why are you stopping families popping into a pub beer garden, having a packet of crisps, a Coke and a beer?’
“What we do next depends on what tier we end up in when the Prime-Minister announces this. But we won’t get much time to prepare.”
DAVID HAGGERTY, landlord of the Cresswell Arms, Newbiggin-by- the-Sea, Northumberland
“I TOOK over as landlord in March. Quite a few of the pubs had closed in the village. I’m a local and I thought this place was an important part of the community.
“But I opened for two weeks and, since then, have been closed for most of the year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“When we reopened in July after the first lockdown we had to get an extra member of staff in to provide table service. We also made sure the pub was properly sanitised and got the staff to do cleaning routines.
“Everybody behaved and we haven’t had one infection related to the pub.
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“Our brewery, Admiral, has been great. We were ticking over but that will be taken away as we won’t be in Tier One.
“Even if we were to start serving food, which we can’t, the rules are not clear.
“What happens if someone has several pints after eating?”
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