Looking Forward

Stuff that matters

Pubs and restaurants have had the first full day of trading without being able to serve alcohol.

The entire hospitality sector was also told it must close its doors from 6pm every night, in a bid to curb rising Covid cases before Christmas.

Some in the industry fear many venues will not recover from the latest restrictions.

Others have reported a boom in daytime table bookings, despite a ban on alcohol.

Ben Browne, owner of the Pitch Bar and Eatery on Cardiff’s normally bustling Mill Lane said bookings have been decimated, and he will be forced to close during the week.

He said they normally serve about 250 diners on a Saturday, but with the loss of evening trade, it was down to just 30 for the day.

“Turnover wise, we are forecast to take somewhere between 15 and 20% of what we have normally on a Saturday,” he said.

“We normally have 70-100 people for Sunday lunch.

“But we’ve had so many pull out, we’re down to 12 so it’s not viable to open – it won’t cover the chef’s wages.

“I don’t know if it’s lack of choice or people being scared off.”

He said they have taken a decision to only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in the hope the business can survive the restrictions.

“My worry is people think it will go back to normal in two weeks, that is the public perception, but I don’t think it will,” he added.

“There will be no chance of a New Year’s Eve and we will be closed until January.

“I really am worried about what it is going to be like on the other side of Christmas though, a lot are holding on because of December trade.”

But outside the city centre, it is a different story for others in the industry.

At the Gwaelod y Garth Inn in the busy commuter-belt village on Cardiff’s outskirts, business has been booming.

“We opened for breakfast at nine-thirty, and we were fully booked,” said the pub’s manager Rob Pearson.

“We’re fully booked for lunch today, and we’re fully booked tomorrow – it’s bonkers.

“We phoned everyone who had booked for Sunday lunch to ask if they still wanted to come – 175 people. Every single table is confirmed.”

He said the village had “rallied round”.

“It’s too early to see how the no-alcohol sales will affect us.

“We’ve managed so far. The staff have been throwing ideas around. If you surround yourself with a good team you will have a good business.”

A review of the latest restrictions will take place on 17 December, but First Minister Mark Drakeford has already warned there needs to be “a sustained fall” in the number of coronavirus cases to reverse the alcohol ban.

“We would need to see figures coming down across Wales, we need to see a sustained fall in those numbers and be clear that the trajectory is heading down as well,” he told a briefing on Friday.

Conservative leader in the Senedd, Paul Davies, said the national approach from the Welsh Government was unfair on areas with low Covid rates.

Plaid Cymru said hospitality was “paying the price” for a lack of stricter measures after the firebreak lockdown ended on 9 November.