Landlords have hit out at the Government’s ‘grossly unfair’ decision to plunge the city into the highest alert level – just weeks before their busiest trading period.
Pubs across the country were forced to close last month when the second lockdown was announced.
And now venues across the county will have to stay closed for the foreseeable after the Government announced Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire will be placed into Tier 3 on December 2.
Under the ‘high alert level’ restrictions, hospitality settings such as pubs, bars and cafes will have to stay shut until further notice, but venues are still allowed to sell food and drink for takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery.
Rob Ledgar, landlord of The Coachmakers Arms, in Hanley, believes the new rules are ‘grossly unfair.’
He said: “Takings were down by about 60 per cent before the second lockdown was announced so going into Tier 3 will affect us massively because December is traditionally one of our busiest months.
“We have worked so hard to make sure the pub is safe with things like face masks, hand sanitiser and table service and it was working; we even had days where we had to turn people away because we reached our maximum capacity. So, I don’t know how the Government can say it is safer to go to school or to visit a supermarket or a hair salon than coming into a pub.
“All non-essential shops can re-open and I bet all of them will be packed during December with people Christmas shopping.
“It’s grossly unfair to shut hospitality businesses because there’s no rhyme or reason. Local communities need pubs.”
But despite the latest knock-back, Rob has vowed to re-open the Lichfield Street pub as soon as he is able to.
He said: “We will review the situation if we get put into Tier 2 but I honestly don’t think it would be worth us opening until we get to Tier 1. But we will see it through and will will re-open. We will keep this business going, whatever it takes.”
Matty Johnson – who runs the Hopinn in Basford – admits that the new restrictions have left him frustrated.
He said: “Christmas is obviously one of the most lucrative times of the year so it’s really frustrating for us; and it wouldn’t help if we got put into Tier 2 because we don’t do food, it’s not viable for us and we haven’t got the facilities. We are a real ale pub.
“This new tier system just plays into the hands of the big chain pubs, such as Wetherspoon, who can provide customers with a ‘substantial meal.'”
He added: “We have already sacrificed so much, we’ve had to turn away trade, lower our capacity and close earlier on our busiest nights of the week and our takings are half of what they usually are.
“I try not to worry about things I can’t change, but I just think it’s really unfair.”
The Albert Street venue will continue to serve take-outs every day between 5.30pm and 7.30pm and for an extra hour – between 12pm and 1pm – on Saturdays and Sundays.
Customers are asked to bring their own receptacles and place their orders in advance via the pub’s Facebook page or by calling up.
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Matty said: “We have been doing take-outs throughout lockdown; the take-up hasn’t been as big as it was over the summer, maybe it’s the weather or because people are saving for Christmas, but we will carry on doing it.
“I’m sitting on thousands of pounds of stock which will go out of date in January so it needs to go. I just keep having to tell myself that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”