Pubs across the North-East prepare for a gruelling winter

PUBS across the region are taking drastic measures to stay afloat after being devastated by the restrictions placed upon the hospitality over the last few months, The Northern Echo has learned.

In October, a group of pub owners protested against the 10pm curfew, due to a lack of evidence that it lowered infection numbers.

They claimed that the curfew was not worth the devastating impact in their businesses.

Now, with another nationwide lockdown in England, the pubs fear they may not see 2021 without taking drastic action.

Aaron Paul Hicks of The Surtees pub in Crook said that he has sold his caravan in an effort to keep the pub going.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Hicks said: “Unfortunately, we have been looking at our assets to see what we can sell, just to stay afloat.

“The only way I can describe it really is grief, but hopefully we will get through it with whatever is left.

“I had put some much time and sacrifice into the caravan, I am absolutely gutted to be letting it go.

“The lockdown hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I think that is because we knew it was coming and we had time to prepare, unlike last time but, it will still be a test for the business.

“The worst-case scenario is we miss Christmas, because that is where we, like so many pubs, make our money. The months following Christmas are usually when pubs struggle the most.”

Dave Johnson, of The Hole in the Wall pub, Darlington, said: “We may survive this but it will cost us a small fortune, we like so many breweries, pubs and restaurants have just thrown so much money away.

“We don’t like the stop and start approach and neither do our customers, it puts people off coming out.

“It takes time to build up confidence in people and this is the worst thing that could possibly happen.

“We have invested in so much to keep us safe but its all for nothing really.

“We feel abandoned and marginalised by the Government and we have little faith that they can sort this out.”

The Northern Echo:

However, not every pub sees lockdown as a negative, Dean Young owner of the Three Tonnes pub in Coundon said: “The complete lockdown is better for us than the tier system.

“I was losing a lot of money in tier two with the 10pm shut down and all the waste.

“Right now it’s a sense of batten down the hatches and hope for the best.

“At least now I don’t have to order anything in and I can keep the heating on low.

“It feels like the noose around our necks as been relaxed a little, but I am still resigned to losing Christmas this year which is a devastating blow.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “As our sector enters this second lockdown, we are fearful for the future.

“Research estimates as many as 12,000 pubs are at risk from permanent closure unless the Government provides a longer term support package for the sector.

“We also call on the government to take this time to review the restrictions on the sector within the tiering measures to ensure they are based on evidence, proportionate and necessary.”

The Northern Echo | Durham