On Monday 12th of April further restrictions will be lifted and the opening of non essential shops will take place. Pubs will open allowing them to serve drinks outside only. The Havering Daily had the opportunity to speak with pub Manager Russell from The Deers Rest in Harold Hill, about the impact all the lockdowns have had on his pub and the hospitality industry at large.
“We have been in a stop start situation for a year and every time we stop, we’ve lost products which has had a knock on effect for the brewery and everyone as we have thrown thousands of pounds worth of beer and food away. This has been absorbed by the brewery which if you multiple that up, it’s millions of pounds. Then when we restarted we had to get all new stock in and then we stopped again and we lost a lot more and sadly its been a cycle we have had to get used to.Unfortunately, coming out of this last lockdown all this cannot be done by the brewery so we will see a price increase.
“On a personal scale I fell through all the cracks the Government put in place, however we have managed to claim furlough so all the staff have been paid throughout. Any money I had prior to Covid has now gone, in order to get ready for every opening we have had to invest money and the brewery have invested a lot and I have invested a lot as it is a partnership. We want customers to come back and be safe and in order to do that it has meant investing in things. We currently have a marquee, which we can’t have as a marquee as it has to be 50% open, but it give us about 70 seats. But if the weather is really cold and horrible, who is going to want to come and sit outside and enjoy a beer? I still have to staff and put measures into place to get ready for the opening.
“I have pretty much lost all my savings, I have had to borrow money. The ‘Help Out to Eat Out’ scheme last year was a good injection but all it allowed me to do was to build a buffer up for what came next and the buffer then went. To protect my staff and business I had to borrow money, we need the reopening to be good for us to get the money back, but the first five weeks is going to be really hard with outside service only.
“Some people might not feel comfortable coming back yet and some people might not want to come back until they can sit and enjoy their drinks properly. We have put a lot of things in place to make sure people can enjoy their drinks. We have extra tables, umbrellas and everything we can do, we are doing.
“I have had to invest in warm clothing for my staff to work outside, may only be a few hundred pounds but it is still more money. Last year we had great plans and we lost them all. There’s no point putting on entertainment when people have to sit in restricted conditions. Until we are fully out, pubs cannot be what they need to be for people.
“The Government have not understood how the pubs and hospitality industry run their business. The only voice they have listened to is trade bodies or big companies and that is not reflective of small business owners like me. My needs and wishes are very different and we don’t have a voice and we’ve not been heard. I honestly believe the plans we have put in place for a Covid secure environment, were stronger than any other supermarket or shop and the transmission rate we now know has been extremely low, yet we are the ones still under restrictions.”