Pub owners locally and nationally know that they have a real fight ahead to save their businesses. Former Labour Party Parliamentary candidate for Aylesbury and landlady of the Old Millwrights Arms, Liz Hind, has been talking to Hayley O’Keeffe of the Bucks Herald and Labour Party colleagues about the challenges she faces as she prepares to re-open her pub.
“The way that this has been dealt with by the government is a complete mess,” Liz explains. “The guidelines came out on June 24th, giving us just 11 days to put the measures in place for us to re-open. We feel that this is all too quick, so we are moving with caution on this.”
The Millwrights will re-open on Sunday July 5th, instead of Saturday, and Liz is asking customers of all pubs to be patient with landlords as they adjust to the new rules.
“The guidelines are vague, with measures that we could consider putting in place – leaving all the pressure on business owners to interpret and implement,” says Liz. “So, why are we not all refusing to open when there are still so many questions? The simple truth is that we have little choice. It is clear that the government will not give more financial support: most of the support they have given is in the form of loans, and furlough is coming to an end. Many pub owners will still have to pay rent, or pay a large penalty for ending a contract early that we simply can’t afford.”
Liz describes herself as “lucky”, as she had enough cash in the business to carry on through lockdown. Parts of her pub have been decorated during that time, and her staff have undergone corona awareness training. She has removed tables and the pub will operate two-metre social distancing until the she has had time to reflect on expected levels of trade.
Frustrated by frivolous Government comments about drinking ‘a yard of ale’, Liz is making a plea for common sense all round:
“I think that the way that Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg are talking about re-opening is really irresponsible. As an industry we need to discourage people from going on pub crawls. And do not under any circumstances order a yard of ale at my pub!
“There are many months of uncertainty to come, so this is going to be all about doing it sensibly and one step at a time. Please bear with us!”
You can read Hayley O’Keeffe’s piece on Aylesbury’s pubs preparing to re-open here: