Jarrow pub owner 'optimistic' after lockdown exit speech allowing bars to begin serving again in April
A Jarrow pub landlord who had spoken of fears he may be forced to close the business permanently has said he is ‘optimistic’ following Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit speech.
The Prime Minister has unveiled a ‘cautious’ roadmap towards lifting England’s third lockdown, after fresh restrictions were imposed in early January.
Under the staggered exit plan, pubs would be able to begin trading outdoors from April 12 – with the possibility of indoor service returning on May 17.
Gareth Carr, who took over the Crown and Anchor in 2019, had told The Gazette that, if unable to reopen by May, he would likely have to call last orders at what is thought to be the town’s oldest operating tavern.
The pub boss was buoyed by Mr Johnson’s speech to Parliament, however, he has now revealed plans to develop the pub’s outdoor space in order to make the most of the planned springtime service resumption.
“I’m definitely optimistic – it’s good news, provided everybody sticks by the rules and we don’t have another spike,” he told The Gazette.
"So as long as we’re allowed to open now – whether it’s with indoor or outdoor service – we should be okay now. We’re really just waiting to hear if we can.
"I’m just hoping we have an April like we did last year now, obviously.”
Mr Carr had feared that, after overseeing considerable development work at the pub which has included installing a commercial kitchen, further lockdown restrictions would effectively mean having “poured more than £100,000 down the drain”.
He says he now plans to expand the Crown and Anchor’s outdoor capacity by about ‘10 times’, in anticipation punters will pour back to the town’s beloved public houses.
Pub bosses in South Tyneside have stressed more widely that a rushed return to service in the coming months could be catastrophic, arguing the area can not afford another lockdown.
Meanwhile, other operators within the borough had been eyeing an Easter reopening ahead of the Government’s announcement.
“It’s good news for pubs in the town there hasn’t been any food service requirements as well,” Mr Carr added.
"Hopefully, we’ll be able to put in benches and coverings in the car park area – which would actually mean we’d be able to serve more customers than before. We’d have more than ten times the outdoor capacity we have now with the beer garden if we can do it.
“Now it’s also down to what’s in Rishi Sunak’s speech next week. I’d say they should be giving us another £10,000 if we’re going to be able to reopen, fill the cellars and everything else.
"But, all things going well now, we’ll be looking forward to welcoming people back in a few weeks’ time.”