Portsmouth pub landlords say delay to June 21 lockdown end during Euro 2020 would be 'heartbreaking'
PUBS across Portsmouth are stocking up in preparation for the European Football Championship and the end of lockdown on June 21 – but publicans remain wary of a government U-turn.
Lockdown restrictions, including those on bar service and crowd numbers, are set to end on June 21.
But health secretary Matt Hancock has said the government is ‘absolutely open’ to delaying the final lifting of England's lockdown if necessary.
Publicans across Portsmouth and Hampshire remain confident that punters will be back around their bars in a fortnight – and are preparing accordingly.
Landlord Lawrence Hall at The Shepherd's Crook in Goldsmith Avenue plans to order 50 per cent more booze ready for reopening – and says a delay while Euro 2020 is ongoing would be ‘pretty heart-breaking’.
He said: 'In a normal summer, it wouldn't be horrific, but this summer, with the Euros going on, it would be pretty heart-breaking.
'Obviously we have got plans for the original date. We're expecting to have a big sort of party weekend that weekend.
‘We plan to order more beer than usual – about 50 per cent more than usual.’
Carol Baker, landlady of The Ironmaster in West Street, Fareham, is ordering 20 per cent more beer due to the football tournament – and remains ready for an extension of restrictions.
The landlady said: ‘We are always ready for changing whatever is necessary.’
Policies around staff manning entrances, as well as track and trace, are set to differ from pub to pub, with many publicans waiting for further government advice.
Landlord Lawrence said: ‘We have got to find the best of both worlds. We don’t want to go completely back to the days of there being essentially no customer service as you walk through the door. We quite like the table service as a chance to offer good service.’
Staff directing customers at the entrance of boozers was not a preference for Steve Hudson, who manages The Kings in Albert Road and The Wellington in Old Portsmouth
He said: 'If the restrictions are lifted we certainly won’t be doing that.
‘It would just be nice to see people washing their hands if they can stay in the habit of that.
'We're very confident we will reopen on June 21.
'I think we're all working towards it, but with the caveat that we will go with whatever the government’s advice is.’
Tom Yaman, landlord of the Duke of Devonshire, said: ‘I’m looking forward to it, but we don’t know what to believe as the government keeps changing the plans.
‘But I’m still hopeful that we will reopen and be able to get back to normal - I’d say about 60 per cent sure about it. We want to go back to all systems.’
The Kings has live music booked in for Thursday 24, and the same day will see the start of four day’s of live music, karaoke, and face painting at The Ironmaster.
Live music will also return to The Milton Arms in Milton Road on the first weekend after restrictions are lifted, according to landlady Chrissy Sloan.
She said: ‘It’s going to be carnage. It would be massive if the restrictions aren’t lifted. Table service has been really hard – even a return of bar service at part of the bar would be helpful.’
But like other publicans, the landlady sees the June 21 date far from certain.
She added: ‘I would say it’s 50-50.’