South Shields pub landlords grit teeth for 'another four weeks of hell' after delay to covid restrictions lifting
Pub landlords are preparing for an extra four difficult weeks after the Government’s decision to delay lifting covid restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that the scheduled ending of restrictions would now be put back to July 19, leaving businesses counting the cost.
Sinia Jazwi, boss at the The New Cyprus Hotel in Chichester Road, has been hit hard by the pandemic, only opening for a matter of weeks in 2020, and had hoped the hard times would end as planned on June 21.
“It’s like promising a kid their big present for Christmas and then not getting it, how would you feel,” she said.
“We are being penalised. One hundred people could go to [a supermarket] without even knowing who has gone in – there is no balance.
"We should all be part of the same rulings for it to ever be fair.”
With closures over Christmas and New Year, pubs have already had to cope with huge financial losses, and had hoped to have a successful summer trade as restrictions end.
“The restrictions are not manageable anymore, they have been going on for too long,” Sinia said.
"We are just expecting another lockdown, we can't pre-plan to prosper.
"We can only put bands on when we are at maximum capacity to break even, but we can’t book bands with the restrictions being in place, so they will have to be cancelled.
"Customers can’t wait to dance, they can’t wait for the restrictions to be lifted. They are desperate for some normality.
”I am worried about the next few weeks, if customers are down-hearted they might not bother coming out."
The extending of restrictions also means that landlords have had to reorganise events that had been booked for more than 30 guests in anticipation that measures would be dropped.
However, the 30-person cap for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as wakes, will be lifted on 21 June, with limits to be set by venues based on social-distancing requirements.
Michael Ward, landlord of the Marsden Inn, in Marsden Lane, and The Look Out, in Fort Street, had 16 functions booked in across the two pubs, but is now having to contact customers to make new arrangements in order to meet covid guidelines.
"We thought the Euros was going to push business through the roof so we are absolutely gutted with the announcement,” he said.
"Having to keep table service in place is killing us because it is doubling the wage bill with needing more members of staff behind the bar and those getting the drinks.
"But I was expecting them [the Government] to say that you can’t drink inside pubs anymore – I thought they might close pubs totally – so I am pleased they didn’t.”
Sinia agreed restrictions on numbers and requirement for table service puts even more financial pressure on pubs.
“The more sections of the pub that are open, the more staff I require, so for us it is just an unmanageable nightmare,” she said.
"We just have to get our heads down and believe that this is the last four weeks of hell.”
She added: “I am really concerned for my friends who have pubs in the town centre because they are really struggling and had been living in hope for this lift and it hasn’t been delivered yet again. It is really disappointing.”