The landlord of a Penrith pub says it is very disappointing that the hospitality industry “seems to be getting the blame for this virus” ahead of an expected announcement which will see pubs and restaurants forced to shut at 10pm.
Gary Bowden, licensee of Penrith’s Agricultural Hotel, asked why the Government was “picking on” restaurants and cafes when supermarkets and garages could carry on selling alcohol after 10pm.
“Pubs and restaurants are the only ones that are doing track and trace — there’s nothing at the supermarket,” said Gary.
He said people would just carry on drinking at the houses of family and friends after hours and feels the Government has “got it really wrong” if it thinks people are going to snitch on their neighbours.
“It is safer to drink in the pub. We have a one-way system here. We think about our customers and our staff — we did not go in for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme because we felt it would be unsafe to do that,” said Gary.
He added: “We want people to feel safe when they come in. We control who we have in — it is very disappointing that the hospitality industry seems to be getting the blame for this virus.”
Of the move to provide table service for all, including at all their outside benches, Gary said it would mean paying more staff, despite income being hit.
However, he has vowed to try and remain open, with an extended outside area for the winter, and said the pub’s landlord, PFK, was helping the business through the crisis.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the House of Commons at 12.30pm, followed by a TV address at 8pm to unveil new measures to tackle the rise in COVID-19 cases.
It is understood a range of new measures will be brought in by the Government, including table service only at venues and people being urged to work from home if they can.