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South West campaigners from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Campaign for Pubs have joined forces to urge people to support their local pubs when they are able to open their indoor spaces from 17th May.
The rule of six (or up to two households) will still apply indoors (as will face masks when standing, and table service, while groups of up to 30 will be allowed outdoors.
Vince Curtis, chairman of CAMRA in Cornwall, said: “While there was much reporting of pub gardens being very busy when customers were allowed back into outdoor spaces from 12th April, this did not tell the whole story.
“Many pubs do not have large outdoor areas and it would have been unviable for them to re-open while this limiting option was in place. And, when the weather turned cold and wet, many customers stayed away from those pubs that did re-open.
“This has added to the many challenges faced by pubs over the last 14 months. There is no doubt that the covid pandemic has had a terrible effect on many people and businesses alike. The hospitality sector has been particularly badly hit. We hope that the public can enjoy the social and wellbeing benefits of being back inside the local, not just in its beer garden.”
Many publicans have built up substantial debts due to being forced to close and having a lack of government support. While there were loans available and the furlough scheme, which were appreciated, these were far from sufficient to mitigate the loss of income coupled with the ongoing
overheads for such a very long period.
Pubs are a cornerstone of our society
As the pandemic went through various phases, publicans were faced with draconian restrictions. While this took place, many pubs nationally were shutting down permanently and staff were made redundant. Once a pub shuts, they very rarely open again.
Alastair Kerr, from the Campaign for Pubs, said: “Pubs are a cornerstone of our society, a bedrock of our communities and a staple of our culture, and we should all pull together to ensure that pubs survive
and thrive during and after this pandemic.
“Pubs have faced the brunt of the restrictions that have been enforced by this government, often with no evidence to back them up, and now more than ever they need all the support they can get. The Campaign for Pubs continues to promote, support, and fight for pubs, publicans and their customers all over the UK.”
Vince added: “What this pandemic has proved is how much the hospitality industry gives back to the government financially, and how pubs play such an important part in our way of life. From quiet pubs, pubs with music, pubs where you can play a sport or watch sport, pubs where you can dine and much more.
“Now pubs are able to open up more, we need to focus on how to save our locals. The public can play its part in saving this great British institution by using them. Pubs are the hub of the community.”
The view from the bar
Louise Treseder, Driftwood Spars Hotel, St Agnes, Cornwall
“The worst bit of the last 15 months, for me, was when we were first closed, and the weeks leading up
to this. The uncertainty of how the staff were going to be paid was terrible, but once furlough was
announced and I secured a CIBLS (Coronavirus Business Interuption Loan Scheme) loan I felt the business could survive for a while. When we were re-opening, the VAT reduction and the business rates holiday added to the relief that we could have a business to come back to.
“The constant closing and re-opening was hard. We never knew how much to order and worried about wastage, which we could ill afford under the circumstances. We are fortunate that we are in a coastal location and have lots of space we can use. If we were in a city, recovery would have been more challenging and stressful.
“We are very glad to be re-opening inside again as this gives me and the staff certainty that we can be open every day. At the moment it is so weather dependant. Being on the north coast of Cornwall and exposed to the Atlantic, a marquee or structure wasn’t really an option as it would easily get damaged — it would a have been a wasted investment. It will be strange having customers in the B&B again, and I’m worried I’ve forgotten something, but I’ll soon work it out when we get open.
“It’s been challenging for the brewery, but we managed to adapt well. We put our cask beer into mini-kegs to sell to customers of the pub, but we still have to dispose of almost 50 casks of beer. And then the lead in time to re-opening wasn’t quite long enough, so we spent most of last summer trying to catch up with beer production.”
Amy Newland, The White Hart, Chilsworthy, Cornwall
“We’ve always been here for the community, and it was the strangest feeling; as soon as the door
closed you lost the soul of the pub. It was cold and empty. We live upstairs and it was upsetting to
be there; our lives changed overnight. One night we’re buzzing with lovely customers having a great time, the next night it’s just an empty old building. It was like being in a ghost town.
“At the very beginning and throughout the first lockdown, we sometimes thought of giving up. It was so hard. People said: ‘It must be amazing, lockdown in a pub!’ But it was the loneliest place you could be!”