Pub owners in Stoke-on-Trent have hit out at the ‘grossly unfair’ new coronavirus restrictions which will see the city plunge into Tier 3 ahead of the traditionally busy Christmas trading period.
The Potteries – and the wider county of Staffordshire – are among the areas in the West Midlands which will be placed into ‘very high alert’ from December 2.
This means that pubs, cafes and restaurants across the city will have to remain closed for at least a further two weeks.
Now landlords from two Stoke-on-Trent pubs have hit out at the Government’s decision to place the city into the highest tier.
Rob Ledgar, landlord of The Coachmakers Arms, in Hanley, said: “Takings were down by about 60 per cent before the second lockdown was announced so going into Tier 3 will affect us massively because December is traditionally one of our busiest months.
“We have worked so hard to make sure the pub is safe with things like face masks, hand sanitiser and table service and it was working; we even had days where we had to turn people away because we reached our maximum capacity. So, I don’t know how the Government can say it is safer to go to school or to visit a supermarket or a hair salon than coming into a pub.
“All non-essential shops can re-open and I bet all of them will be packed during December with people Christmas shopping.
“It’s grossly unfair to shut hospitality businesses because there’s no rhyme or reason. Local communities need pubs.”
Rob added: “We will review the situation if we get put into Tier 2 but I honestly don’t think it would be worth us opening until we get to Tier 1. But we will see it through and will will re-open. We will keep this business going, whatever it takes.”
Matty Johnson – who runs the Hopinn in Basford – said: “Christmas is obviously one of the most lucrative times of the year so it’s really frustrating for us; and it wouldn’t help if we got put into Tier 2 because we don’t do food, it’s not viable for us and we haven’t got the facilities. We are a real ale pub.
“This new tier system just plays into the hands of the big chain pubs, such as Wetherspoon, who can provide customers with a ‘substantial meal.
“We have already sacrificed so much, we’ve had to turn away trade, lower our capacity and close earlier on our busiest nights of the week and our takings are half of what they usually are.
“I try not to worry about things I can’t change, but I just think it’s really unfair.”
He added: “We have been doing take-outs throughout lockdown; the take-up hasn’t been as big as it was over the summer, maybe it’s the weather or because people are saving for Christmas, but we will carry on doing it.
“I’m sitting on thousands of pounds of stock which will go out of date in January so it needs to go. I just keep having to tell myself that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”