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Struggling pubs in Tier 2 lockdown city slam ‘ludicrous’ new restrictions

Written by on 16/10/2020

Pub landlords in Sheffield have spoken out about the Tier 2 restrictions, which they feel are “heavy handed”.

The additional restrictions for South Yorkshire were announced on Monday and came into effect on Wednesday.

It is now against the law for people to mix with those that they do not live with, or those outside of their ‘bubble’, in private or public indoor spaces.

For the pub trade, already struggling due to the new 10pm curfew, these new rules could well be disastrous.

“It’s very difficult, you can’t go round and ask everyone who comes in: Do you live together?” said Ann Flynn, who owns The Grapes in Sheffield City Centre.

She added: “It seems ludicrous, these are adults coming in who are able to vote and make their own decisions so surely they should take their own health in their own hands, without us having to police it.

“You’ve got to leave it up to people themselves, I think it’s too heavy handed.”

Some pubs are struggling to adapt to the new rules, because they do not feel that it is clear what can and can not be done.

Alex Watmore, bartender at the Lost and Found in Ecclesall Road, said that he and other staff have been finding the ever-changing rules confusing.

He said: “We don’t really mind the restrictions because they are in place to keep us and the public safe, but we don’t really feel that they are very clear.

“This newest wave is absolutely nonsensical, we’re finding it very hard to decipher and adapt our rules.”

And Joshua Jepson, manager of the Kelham Island Tavern, in Kelham Island said that the new rules have stripped pubs of their identity and purpose.

“Tier two restrictions obviously make it very difficult because most people come to pubs to socialise and not with their own household”, he said, “We just have drinks here, so families aren’t coming in for meals.”

He added: “With the rule of six people could come in and meet their friends in a safe environment, but now it’s a case of most people being stuck at home with no one to talk to.

“From the previous Wednesdays up to yesterday we were probably 40 percent down on trade, from pre-covid that’d be 60 percent down. But we won’t know for sure how this will affect trade until we’ve had a weekend.”

Joshua is not the only one who has seen tier two lockdown negatively impact trade, just as it was starting to pick up again.

Graham Reiv, manager of the Red Deer in Sheffield City Centre, said that the new rules have caused business to “drop off a cliff”.

He said: “It didn’t make much of a difference Monday and Tuesday when the restrictions had just been announced, but yesterday’s trade dropped off a cliff.

“It’s the fact that people can’t mix indoors with different households, it was fine in the summer when everyone wanted to be in the beer garden but no one really fancies it these days.”

Graham said that the summer months were making it a bit easier to survive, but with the winter weather coming in there is very little that pubs are able to do to entice people through the doors.

He added: “If groups of six from other households can meet outdoors and you do have an outdoor space then you can sometimes make enough to get through, but it’s getting colder and wet now.

“Anyone that does have outdoor space would love to be able to put covers up and heaters out, but that’s an expense that they can’t afford.”

The prospect of a stricter Tier 3 lockdown has been met with mixed reactions, as some pub staff would welcome the decisive action and clear guidelines – while others are worried about the support in place.

Alex said: “It would confuse things more if we were in Tier 3 but had to remain open, if we were forced to close that would obviously be difficult if the furlough scheme didn’t continue, but at least that would be some action.

“None of us particularly want to go out of work, but if it’s a choice between that in the short term or a long term detriment to hospitality, then we would take two weeks of shutting down.”

But Graham said that he cannot see how many businesses would survive another complete closure, unless there was some real support in place.

“We don’t know how the support is given out, from what we understand support is only available for businesses that are told to close”, he said.

He added: “We’re all fully aware that the most important thing is keeping people safe and well, but we just feel like we’ve done everything asked of us.

“We’ve gone above and beyond to keep people safe, keep people in jobs, keep paying our rent and our overheads and every week there’s something different that we have to overcome.”