Nick Ferrari slams idea of vaccine passports in pubs
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Boris Johnson has been told that hundreds of pubs may never reopen their doors if he is persuaded to move his roadmap dates and delay reopening time next week. The Countryside Alliance’s #UnLockInn campaign, backed by the Sunday Express, helped push the government to provide a timetable to allow pubs to reopen and drop some of the rules which bedeviled landlords. From April 12 pubs can serve drinks to customers in outside areas and drinkers will no longer have to buy a substantial meal. By May 17 pubs can serve drinks indoors again.
But campaigners warn that with landlords forking out large sums of money to reopen on April 12 any last minute change of heart will be ruinous.
There are fears that this could happen after the government’s last minute decision to cancel Christmas opening cost publicans thousands in unused food and drink as well as wages committed to staff.
Mo Metcalf-Fisher of the Countryside Alliance said: “A lot of landlords clearly feel like this is a last chance saloon scenario and are banking on the roadmap remaining solidly in place. I think a lot of people underestimate the sheer amount of money and planning that goes into preparing for a safe reopening.
“With the fantastic rollout of the vaccination programme continuing at the rate it is, now is clearly the time to be optimistic and to encourage as many people as possible to help in the national effort to rebuild the economy as businesses open up.”
In a recent survey by the Countryside Alliance for the Sunday Express 40 percent of rural pub landlords said they would reopen on April 12 while 28 percent said it would be impossible.
With a May 17 opening for inside drinking, almost seven in 10 were sure their business would survive and would be able to reopen properly.
Phil Doyle of the Three Tuns pub in Heddon near Hadrian’s wall revealed that he has spent £5,000 preparing to meet the government guidelines for outdoor drinking and bought £4,000 of stock for April 12.
He warned that if the reopening date is shifted “we won’t survive without accumulating huge debts.”
He added: “We haven’t had many calls but we have decided to not take advance bookings anyway as whether we open each day will be weather dependent. If it’s raining we won’t open that day as we don’t have a covered area.”
Lucy Bonner, 24 and landlady of the Brewery Tap in Furneux Pelham, Hertfordshire said: “We are banking on the government not to move the goalposts. Any more sudden closures and I may well have no option but to chuck the towel in and shut shop and I know many other landlords feel the same way. We have given the government the benefit of the doubt throughout the lockdowns, but now we desperately need stability to thrive”.
She has spent about £7,000 on preparing for reopening stock plus another £5,000 on creating waterproof seating areas outside.
They have also hired a stretch tent for 8 weeks and a waterproof sail canopy to put over the patio.
They will have to have at least two extra members of staff per shift for table service only.
Will McClelland, landlord of the Kings Arms in Paul, near Mousehole, Cornwall has forked out £7,000 on preparing for outdoors and £4,000 on restocking.
He said: “Like everyone we are hanging by a thread right now and government support although the soundbites make it seem substantial it is really not indicative of the real costs involved.”
Other pubs have told the Countryside Alliance that they are not reopening because of a lack of trust that the government will not move the goalposts again at the last minute.
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