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Gloucestershire Business News

Restrictions could call time on hospitality businesses

The manager of a Gloucester pub fears many landlords are set to say "enough is enough" after the latest government coronavirus restrictions forced them to close at 10pm.

And a collection of rural hospitality businesses in Gloucestershire has warned of the damage being done to the industry - days after coming together to showcase how they could provide events following guidelines.

The latest restrictions on pubs and restaurants, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday, come into place tomorrow with the early closure alongside mandatory table service.

And Chris Atine, general manager at Gloucester pub and restaurant Cafe Rene, believes it will be the final straw for some venues.

He said: "This is really bad news for the industry. Forty per cent of city centre pub and bar takings are taken after 10pm and over the weekend. This is going to be hard to replace, it's looking very difficult.

"With table service the staffing costs are going up but the takings are going down the reality is that many will not be able to carry on.

"I can see many just not bothering to reopen. There comes a time when the landlords are going to say enough is enough.

"They'll do the weekend, cash up and close up before they accrue any more debts."

The Prime Minister warned the restrictions could be in place for another six months if the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise.

"Christmas looks very tough too and this is normally when many pubs and restaurants make their money to see them though the leaner months that follow," he said.

"I think we just have to stay positive, people are adapting, businesses are adapting but many are going to go to the wall."

Peter Sheehy, landlord of the nearby Turks Head in Southgate Street, felt the latest restrictions on pubs and restaurants - which were shut from March until early July - were unnecessary.

He said: "This is a little unfair, there is very little spread in the hospitality industry. There has been greater spread in care homes and it feels unwarranted.

"But we do as we are told and abide by the rules and regulations."

Steve Gardner-Collins from Visit Gloucestershire said the upcoming months were already looking anxious for many businesses after a busy few weeks helped by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

He said: "Naturally we all want to protect one another from coronavirus, the sector itself can carry on trading, but the message we want to get out there is that with covid secure measures in place, a shift in trading hours, trace and track policies and risk assessments, hospitality colleagues wearing PPE, we want customers to support Gloucestershire hospitality businesses and venture out, think local staycation, think local restaurant and think local bar or pub.

"To bounce back in the spring, we really need our hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants to survive, but we need the people of Gloucestershire to stayc at a Gloucestershire hotel, eat out and drink out."

The drop in live events - and fresh restrictions on the number of guests at weddings following on from the 'rule of six' which limits the number of people who can gather together - has caused "unprecedented damage" to the industry according to a collection of Gloucestershire event companies.

Dany Fremantle, director of Stow-on-the Wold event planners Oasis Events, said: "The weddings and events sector is a key employer outside urban centres, a huge swathe of rural jobs will be lost if more support is not urgently provided.

"With gatherings still restricted and no government road map for when events can run again, countless small businesses in rural areas are at risk."

Around 100,000 weddings were cancelled during lockdown and with only 15 guests permitted under the latest restrictions, venues are receiving only a fraction of the income.

Oasis Events was one of a group of Cotswolds event specialists, including The Travelling Pub, LPM Bohemia, Hassle Free Weekends, Vanilla Pod Bakery, Millie Richardson Flowers, Folly Hire, Paul Haresign, Woodlands Generators, Richardson Event Hire, Table to Dine For, Virginia's Vintage Hire, Tarren Furniture Hire, photographer Mark Nicholson, Evenlode Films, Haynes Hanson & Clark, Jules Mackness, Emerald Paper Design, Cotswold Brew Co and Peak Hire, who came together for a photoshoot.

They have called for grants rather than loans for the events supply chain, an extension of the flexible furlough and self-employed support schemes and a road map for the return of events.

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