Call to back Doncaster's pubs as new tier two Covid rules bring closure fears

Doncaster pub bosses are urging the public to back them as they prepare for the latest blow to hit their industry.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 7:00 am

Landlords fear new rules placing Doncaster as a tier two area for Covid 19 restrictions could devastate them as the public is barred from meeting with people from other households. The restriction comes hot on the heels of 10pm closing time rules.

Martin Blagden, who runs Biscuit Billy’s on Silver Street only recently re-opened after remodelling the inside of his pub.

But he fears the combination of new restrictions and the end of the Government’s furlough scheme could force him to close.

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Biscuit Billy's owner Martin Blagden, pictured. Picture: NDFP-29-09-20-BiscuitBillys 5-NMSY

He said: “From a business point of view, I would have been better off in tier three – I would have had grant support. Tier two is the worst situation.

"Last week was bad enough with the 10pm curfew. Now they’re saying only come with your own household groups. It’s going to have a big impact. I think I may have to see how this weekend goes, but I fear the worst. I don’t think we could survive paying 55 per cent of the wages under the new scheme.

"I’ve talked to staff and it upsets me that we could have to make people redundant.

"I’m urging people who are in the same household or the same bubble, come out to a local independent pub and spend a few pounds – but I understand there are people who don’t feel they can go out.”

Ian and Alison Blaylock, pictured at Doncaster Brewery Tap. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-DoncBreweryTap-1

Alison Blaylock, who runs the Doncaster Tap on Young Street, with husband Ian, had been hoping to re-open in a couple of weeks – but the new restrictions could scupper that.

They closed in March, offering delivery sales to keep an income.

She said: “We had been looking to re-open in the next couple of weeks, but with the new rules, we’re not sure what we’re going to do now they've said households shouldn’t meet indoors. The people who come here are all friends. It is tricky. We don’t know how that’s going to work and it could scupper our re-opening.

"It could depend how long the second tier restrictions carry on.”

Landlord at The Plough in Doncaster Nick Griffin pictured outside his pub with the newly revealed original signs.

Ian hopes to brew a pumpkin beer for Halloween. But that may now only be available for home delivery rather than at the venue’s bar.

On West Laith Gate, Nick Griffin runs the Little Plough.

He said he felt he no longer knew if he was coming or going with the changing rules – but was angry Doncaster had been put in tier two.

Figures for the borough last week were 167 cases per 100,000. In Sheffield the figure was 413 cases per 100,000.

He said his landlord had been supportive throughout, but he had already been hit first by lockdown, then 10pm closing times, and fears the ban on different households meeting indoors.

"Apparently you can’t go out with your neighbour now,” he said. “But what is the difference between a pub and an office, if you’re 2m apart? This is going to affect us again.

"I’ve been in pubs 30 years and I’m determined to keep going.

"How are we to tell who is family and who is not in a bubble? We’re not the police. We can only trust people.”