Smaller pubs and taprooms in Portsmouth and Gosport 'nowhere back to normal' after Covid rules
TRADE at taprooms and smaller pubs across the area is ‘nowhere near back to normal’ after restrictions lifted this summer, publicans have said.
Landlords and landladies from Gosport to Portsmouth say they are still on the road to full recovery after a brutal 18 months.
It comes as stringent social distancing rules kept smaller venues closed when other boozers could open.
In Portsmouth, The Hole In The Wall saw social distancing shrink its capacity from 50 punters to 25 – and trade remains below capacity after almost two months without Covid-19 restrictions.
Landlord Jon McKerracher, whose pub recently won a coveted gold award from The Campaign for Real Ale, said: ‘I would say we are 80 per cent back to normal, in terms of trade. We are definitely not thriving.
‘Saturday night have been very quiet. It’s most Saturdays. Now we’re not opening past 9pm and we’re opening up earlier as we will have a busier afternoon.
‘Some people are just coming back in.’
Due to concerns about trade, Jon has decided to cancel the pub’s annual October beer festival.
In Gosport, the landlady of The Four-Ale Taproom in Stoke Road said that this summer has seen a lull in trade compared with previous years.
The pub had it’s capacity cut from 50 patrons to just 16 under social distancing rules, and opened what it dubbed was ‘the worst beer garden in the UK’ in a parking bay when outdoor service resumed.
Shannon Bull said: ‘I’d say the summer hasn’t been what we had in the past, but we are definitely starting to see an uptick in business.
‘As we stand at the moment we are starting to return to what we knew before Covid, but we do believe it will be a while yet.
‘We have an amazing and loyal customer base that has seen us through everything and keep coming back.’
Her brother-in-law Steve Bull, who runs the West Street Ale House in Fareham, said the pub was in ‘a recovery phase’ – but he was feeling optimistic about the future.
The landlord said: ‘We have really loyal customers and they supported us through out Covid. We absolutely couldn’t have done it without them.’
The West Street Ale House plans to hold a comedy night on a to-be-confirmed date in December, and a Halloween-themed quiz in late October.