ROADMAP – Divided opinion from pubs over planned…

ROADMAP – Divided opinion from pubs over planned reopening dates

OPINION is divided among pubs in Bradford over the planned reopening for the industry in the roadmap out of lockdown revealed by the Prime Minister.

Pubs and restaurants could reopen for outdoor service from April 12 under Boris Johnson’s plans, with indoor service to be allowed from May 17 at the earliest.

The rule of six will remain in place until the summer for these industries, when social distancing rules are due to be abolished.

The Record Café’s Keith Wildman said he was glad to have a fixed date to work towards, however The Alexandra’s Wayne Clarkson felt the Government’s logic was “nonsensical”.

Mr Clarkson said he didn’t understand the delay in reopening hospitality as it has a minimal impact on the infection rate.

He said: “I’m quite angry and frustrated at the overly cautious approach.

“It defies logic some of the things laid out in the roadmap. You can get a haircut at close quarters but you can’t have a socially distanced pint inside a pub.

“Some pubs don’t have outdoor areas so won’t be able to reopen until May, that’s three months away.

“For pubs like ours that do, if you don’t have shelter for poor weather, in April when the weather is unpredictable some days you might as well no open.

“Pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector have invested thousands in safety systems, enforcing masks everywhere, contactless payments, wiping down surfaces constantly and one way systems.

“I went to the supermarket at thr weekend and it was carnage; I’d definitely feel safer in a pub than a supermarket.

“When pubs were open there were about 1,000 infections a day, now it’s 10,000 and pubs have been shout for months, so how can you say hospitality drives up infections?

“It is a silver lining to have a date rather than staring into the distance, but there is still a lot of frustration among publicans, and I fear some people may never reopen.

“The logic is nonsensical, they talk about being drived by the data but if they were pubs wouldn’t be shut as they don’t drive up infections.”

Keith Wildman runs the city centre Record Café on North Parade, and said he will not be opening until May at the earliest.

“With any restrictions you’re better off staying shut,” he said, “so we’ll have to see what restrictions are still in place in May.

“It’s certainly positive news as there’s a fixed date to work towards if everything goes as we hope it will.

“I just hope they extend the support for the new few months; they’ve supported business for almost 12 months so I’m sure they will continue it for a few more.

“I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Greg Mulholland, the former Leeds North West MP and now campaign director for the Campaign for Pubs, has criticised the lack of certainty provided for pubs.

He said: “Despite this being the third lockdown and with pubs having been closed for such a huge proportion of the last year, the Government has still not given any certainty for publicans as to when they may be able to finally, properly open their pubs again, which is disastrous for their businesses but also for mental health. 

“We all accept the need to control the spread of Covid until vaccinations reach a certain level, but the Government keeps moving the goalposts and its pubs that are being hardest hit by that.

“It’s disappointing that today’s  announcement was made without any indication of what further support will be provided for pubs to get them through this crisis.

“The Chancellor must announce this as soon as possible and before the Budget and it must be adequate or there will be many publicans who just won’t be able to continue racking up debts and pubs will start to close.”