Doncaster pub landlords are keen to re-open – but don’t expect to be sitting down to a pint at many venues before May

Doncaster pub landlords are keen to re-open – but don’t expect to be sitting down to a pint at many venues in the borough before May.

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 12:30 pm

Bar bosses have welcomed the announcement of dates when they will be allowed to start serving again, with the earliest date being in April, but urge they Government to keep financial support in place until they can re-open fully, potentially in June.

None of the pub managers who spoke to the Doncaster Free Press expected to be open on April 12, when venues are only allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors.

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David Sissons, pictured outside The Spinney, in Balby. Picture: NDFP-23-02-21-Spinney 3-NMSY

Dave Sissons has run the Spinney in Balby since 1991. He said he could not see his customers sitting outside in April, and did not think it would make sense financially to open.

He is looking at May 17 – the government’s third stage of its roadmap – when two households may be able to mix indoors, with the rule of six in pubs and restaurants.

"For the sake of a few weeks, I’m looking at May,” he said. “But we still have questions that I think need answering. Is it going to have to be table service? Will we have to get rid of half our tables to fit in with social distancing, and police things like masks and group sizes?

"I think they need to keep support packages running until things are back to normal.”

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

But he said it was good to see dates in place.

“We’d never been closed since I took over. We even opened on Christmas Day, until lockdown last March,” he added.

His plans were echoed by Donna Mourning, at the Foresters Arms, in Adwick.

"We will not be opening in April,” she said. “We’ve not got the capacity to do that. There will still be restrictions and we'd have to have staff members out there. We have a smoking area and some grass, but that’s near houses.

Foresters Arms, Adwick. PIcture: Google

“I think there will be very few pubs in Doncaster open in April.

"We will be looking at May. Of the restrictions last year, the rule of six was the easiest to manage. These dates are a glimmer of hope, something positive.

"Obviously it all depends on everything going to plan.”

Some pubs will not reopen until June 21 – when all legal limits on social contact are planned to be removed.

That group will include Biscuit Billy’s, on Silver Street, said boss Martin Blagden.

His business is built around music and a full venue on busy Friday and Saturday nights. It has no beer garden.

He said: “Because of the offer we have here, for the sake of four or five weeks we will wait until June.

"The Government needs to have something in place to help pubs through to that point.

"But the feedback I’m getting is people are raring to come back this time, in a way that they were not so much last summer, but it has to be safe.

"There is so much that could happen between now and June, but if everything goes to plan there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"I just want to sell some beer. But it feels like they are doing it right this time. I’m more confident than before.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.