'It isn't printable' - South Tyneside landlord's message to Boris Johnson amid fears pubs face new covid closure

A pub landlord fears he would be only weeks away from having to find another job if the Government closes down bars again as part of new coronavirus restrictions.

The region’s pubs – which only reopened from July 4 onwards following easing of the initial round of March restrictions – have since had to contend with local lockdown curbs on opening hours and who drinkers can sit with.

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Lee Hughes, landlord of the Red Hackle pub, on Jarrow’s Scotch Estate, where he has worked for 30 years, said any temporary closure would come at a difficult time of year with the school October half-term holidays only weeks away and Christmas following not long after.

Lee Hughes, landlord of the Red Hackle, in Jarrow, said he could only survive a matter of weeks before having to look for a new job if pubs close again.

He said: “If they shut pubs down again then I could only survive weeks before I would have to give it up and look for another job.

"You still have bills to pay for gas, electric, the Sky television, your rent, they aren’t going away even if we do close.”

He said the pub’s trade was around 70-80 per cent down on what it was before the start of the crisis with the pub’s overall capacity cut by about two thirds from around 200 people to around 70 people.

Mr Hughes, 50, who has run the pub for 15 years and provided thousands of meals for the community after the initial lockdown in March, said: "The hours changes, the numbers changes. It seems to depend on which puppet is pulling the Prime Minister’s strings today.

“All these continued changes are just making life even more difficult for us. It is the inconsistency which is killing us.

"I went to Newcastle last week, bought a coffee, went to a baker’s, got on and off the Metro, never got asked for track and trace once.

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"Yet as soon as I walk into a pub I am asked to track and trace. It seems as though pubs are the only place where track and trace works.”

Asked what his message for Mr Johnson was, the former independent South Tyneside councillor, who lives above the pub with wife Jonelle, said: “It isn’t printable.”

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