Pub & bar owners ‘heartbroken’ tonight knowing they must close

Bar owners across the Liverpool City Region say being told to close again is “heartbreaking” and the move is going to be “disastrous” for the industry.

Bars and pubs across Liverpool have been ordered to close once again this week as the Government brings in tougher lockdown restrictions.

Tougher measures will come into force from this Wednesday, October 14 when the Liverpool City Region will be placed under the “very high risk” level on the Government’s Covid chart.

This means pubs, bars, casinos, gyms, betting shops and leisure centres must close.

Owner of much-loved Liverpool bar Red Door, Lee Lynch said the new measures announced today will be “absolutely catastrophic” for so many people.

Speaking to the ECHO he said: “The impact of the lockdown restrictions on the hospitality industry have been truly devastating, but the proposed new measures will be absolutely catastrophic for so many.

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“Our business has been developed over more than 20 years in the industry, investing millions in the city of Liverpool alone, employing and developing many through the years, who have gone on to open their own thriving leisure sites as well, which is something we are also proud of.

“It has been incredibly difficult to trade since the first lock-down measures were announced to forward plan, but these measures have quite literally thrown any budgets, targets and projections out of the window.

“The Government schemes helped with staff retention initially, but made no contribution to the day to day running costs and like many businesses we are watching our bank balance haemorrhage at an alarming rate and the recent curfew was a tough blow that many leisure operators are unable to withstand.”

This feeling is shared by Kate Stewart who owns The Sandon Complex. The renowned match-day pub only recently reopened after taking time ensuring the premises were fully covid-secure and complied with all Government guidelines.

Kate is currently left waiting to see what the new measures mean for her businesses as the pub serves a full food menu. Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what’s on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here.

She said: “The new announcement is once again devastating for the hospitality industry. I’m awaiting further details on what this means for The Sandon as we serve a full restaurant menu and therefore may be able to remain open.

“Whether we can or can’t, the current guidelines on only socialising with your bubble is killing the industry. It’s an absolutely heartbreaking situation.

“Not only is the hospitality industry desolate, the restrictions are having a knock on effect on so many other industries including the beauty industry, taxi drivers, event specialists who won’t receive the support they’re making available. The support that we don’t have definitive answers on even for those within hospitality.

“It’s going to be disastrous for our local industry and many local businesses.”

In his press conference tonight, Boris Johnson addressed the nation and said all pubs must close unless “they can operate solely as a restaurant serving alcohol with a main meal”.

However sadly, this does not offer much comfort to the Pub Invest Group which operates bars such as Soho, Level and Brooklyn Mixer in the city centre.

Phil Gillespie, a spokesman for the group described the new measures as “another Swiss Cheese policy”.

He said: “The 3 tier lockdown just seems to be another Swiss Cheese policy- so many gaps in it, it’s hard to manage and understand.

“As a business we’ll be devastated and our staff who were managing the ever-changing Covid rules have now just been told they’ll have to make do with a third less income too. That’s if we can survive for the indeterminate period the lockdown will be on for.

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“The government just seems to be using Liverpool as a testing ground for policy when if they would actually work with the industry we could help them and bring the public on side and not create more problems, for example the 10pm curfew which has been a mess in terms of preventing the spread of the virus and brutal to us as a business.”

With the news of the closures comes concern surrounding the thousands of jobs affected. Andrew Donaldson, finance director for Baa Bar which has been open in Liverpool for nearly 30 years, says his team will “fight for survival”.

He said: “We have operated in Liverpool for almost 30 years and we passionately care about the people in this city.  At the forefront of my mind is how we sustain and keep the jobs of our 120 employees safe until we can operate normally, once again.

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“I have watched as my team rose to the challenge of creating Covid-safe spaces in our venues and then pushed themselves to do whatever was required to operate successfully after lockdown. 

“Now it feels that all of that work, money and commitment was in vain.  The worst part has been the lack of communication and clarity.

“Liverpool has a proud history of being a destination for visitors and our nighttime economy is one of the best in the UK. We will continue to keep up the fight for survival but there is no doubt that this latest lockdown is a big blow that many hospitality businesses, unfortunately, won’t recover from.

“Now is the time for us to demonstrate our Liverpool spirit, that means showing entrepreneurial resilience and remaining focuses on coming out the other side.”

Bars, pubs, casinos, gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and adult gaming centres must close their doors in Liverpool City Region from Wednesday, October 14.

Liverpool Echo – What’s On