Portsmouth pub landlords call for longer lockdown so they can reopen with fewer restrictions

LANDLORDS across Portsmouth have given their views on how a road map leading punters back to a pub pint should look.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 20th February 2021, 7:56 am

Prime minister Boris Johnson is set to lay out plans to ease Covid-19 restrictions across the country on Monday, including details on how pubs can welcome back customers.

The prime minister has stressed the need to act ‘cautiously’ when reopening the hospitality sector – and landlords across Portsmouth would prefer an extended lockdown to unworkable restrictions.

It has been reported pubs could reopen in May, seating a maximum of two households together.

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Emma Parry and manager Steve Hudson in The Kings, Albert Rd, Southsea, on 'Super Saturday' following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions last year Picture: Chris Moorhouse (040720-22)

Giles Babb, who runs three pubs, said he would prefer an extra month of lockdown than a return of ‘ridiculous’ restrictions on alcohol being served with substantial meals.

Giles said: ‘If we were shut for longer but allowed to re-open with fewer restrictions, I would prefer that and it would make more business sense for us.

‘Wearing masks is fine, table service is fine.

‘But substantial meals with alcohol – it has a huge impact on our trade. Over half the trade is drinking trade.

Giles Babb, owner of the Start and Garter, East Dean, as well as the The Blue Bell, in Emsworth, and The Greenwich in Southsea.

‘It was ridiculous, it didn’t work.’

Giles is landlord of The Greenwich in Southsea, The Blue Bell Inn in Emsworth, and the Star and Garter in East Dean.

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Steve Hudson said restrictions on service and household mixing could still generate worthwhile trade for pubs.

But Steve, who manages The Kings in Albert Road and The Wellington in Old Portsmouth, warned those limitations would mean a return to reduced hours.

He said: ‘Food and drink could work – but if we were to open with the measures we had last time we would reduce our opening hours.

‘Before the third lockdown, we were open three hours a day because it wasn’t financially viable.

‘To be honest, the best approach is following the science and open as safely as we can.’

Even if the prime minister throws caution to the wind and lifts all restrictions, it will take some time for punters to feel safe again, according to Barry Kewell, landlord of the Northcote Hotel in Southsea.

The 71-year-old said: ‘I have a plan for opening at the end of April or beginning of May.

‘But we’re owned by Ei and it all depends on what they demand from us. I’m not going to immediately jump back into the trade if I’m back to full rent – people’s confidence has been knocked.

‘I could go another three months closed, but we are nearing the end of what we can take.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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