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Local Pub Owners Look Ahead To Re-Opening

 

The sun was beating down on beer gardens across the Vale of Glamorgan as the Welsh government confirmed a further easing of lockdown rules this week.

But there were no customers to soak up its rays. 

Instead, from an empty pub, owners Kelly and Jay Jones spoke to Bro Radio. 

“So, how excited are you to be reopening on Monday?” asked Bro Radio’s The Vale This Week, Matthew Harris. 

“It’s a mixture of both, I think,” Mr Jones said. “Excited, trepidation, nervous. I know this is the second time round opening after a lockdown but it doesn’t make it any easier.

“You worry, especially after seeing the pictures from the Senedd, how people are going to react and act. But yeah we are looking forward to it.” 

He pauses. He’s being very honest considering the impact of the pandemic on hospitality businesses and that pubs will officially reopen outdoors from next Monday. 

Mr and Mrs Jones run The White Hart and the Tudor Tavern in Llantwit Major. 

For publicans, uncertainty over government advice is one more thing to worry about on top of reopening. 

For customers, a fast-moving situation is adding to the difficulty of planning a visit to their local. 

The recent changes mark the second time the road out of lockdown has been changed ahead of schedule. Six people from six households will now be able to meet outdoors in Wales from Saturday. 

The Tudor Tavern in Llantwit

The Welsh Government has brought the new rules forward, but Mr Jones is still feeling under pressure. 

“It’s been very hard because the Welsh government haven’t been very forthcoming with advice. It was either Friday or Saturday morning we got the regulations through, which was obviously two households maximum with six people. Last night they went and changed it again.” 

His partner, Mrs Jones jumped in with her concerns. 

“It’s just the frustration of it all. You don’t know whether you’re coming or going. You plan for one thing and then those plans have to change. 

“All those people that have booked are most probably so frustrated now because, perhaps they booked within the guidelines from yesterday and now all of a sudden they can have extra people, they can’t see their friends because they’ve already made the booking. So it’s going to be frustrating for them as well.” 

This is not what the Welsh government had planned. In fact, this is what the taskforce established to help guide the sector through the pandemic had hoped to avoid. 

An al-fresco reopening was the only way. Any set-backs will be a disappointment for a government that has been widely praised for its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. It’s aggressive approach to vaccinations appears to have paid off. But even with all those measures, the risk was still too great to restart indoor hospitality. 

“When we opened up in the last lockdown it was all new to us all,” says Mr Jones. 

“We’ve done a lot of improvements with screens. Put up a lot of extra lighting because we knew it would be outside space. We managed to get a lot more tables in and seating to enable us to have more customers outside.

“We’ve had to take the decision at the start we’re not going to do food. We’re only going to do drinks. It’s all freshly cooked, so we can’t have thousands of pounds of stock sitting in fridges in the hope that people are going to turn up for it. We need to open with just drinks to see where we go.” 

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