Pubs braced for tough times after new curfew announced
A publican has accused the Government of “doing us over at every turn” after new measures came into place last week week.
As of Thursday last week, pubs have been forced to close by 10pm in an effort to curb the growing number of coronavirus cases in the UK.
But landlords have said the lack of coherent messaging and overzealous enforcement of restrictions will spell dire consequences for their bottom lines, and do very little to curb the spread of the virus.
George Moore, who runs The Cap in The Thoroughfare, Harleston, said many owners felt as though pubs have been swept to the wayside during the ongoing pandemic.
“The Government is doing us over at every turn,” said the 29-year-old.
“It feels like we are considered a leisure activity and not a necessity, but when it’s your business, it’s definitely a necessity.”
The pub, which only opened in July, was operating until 10.30pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends, but will now be forced to start serving last orders hours earlier than normal if it is to stick to the new curfew time of 10pm.
“The bottom line is that it’s difficult to predict what people are going to do,” added Mr Moore.
“Will it help? Not really, no. What are you really solving by sending people home an hour or two earlier?
“I guess there’s a bit of a culture of drunk people being more likely to be hugging each other, but they’ll still do that elsewhere if they’re not in the pub.”
Diane Leeder, who works at The Queen’s Head in Cross Street, Eye, echoed Mr Moore’s sentiments.
“If we send everyone home at 10pm, does that mean they won’t get coronavirus?,” she asked.
“If people have been together all evening, they will go home as a group and be a lot closer to each other in their homes.
“It’s going to hurt us quite a bit financially, because we do get very busy, especially on Fridays.”
The 62-year-old added that a lack of cohesive messaging had left publicans in the dark.
She said: “Is 10pm when we have got to have everyone out, or is that when we have to stop serving?
“It’s frustrating. I think if things were set in stone, and everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet and knew what we were doing, it would be okay, but it’s so complicated.”
Chris Gissing, landlord at The Cock Inn in Diss, showed more faith in the Government’s decision, but added he was yet to see any clear evidence of how the new measures would necessarily help curb the spread of the virus.
“I can’t see how it’s going to make much difference, but it must be based on something, I’m sure,” he said.
“It must help otherwise they wouldn’t do it, but it doesn’t seem obvious what difference it would make.”
Mr Gissing said a return to normal opening hours for his pub in Denmark Street seemed a very distant prospect.
“We won’t be open past 10pm in the foreseeable future,” he added. “I don’t see it happening before the spring, unless things change dramatically.”