'It's horrendous' Sheffield pubs plea for stricter lockdown just one day into Tier 2 restrictions

Publicans in Sheffield have pleaded for a stricter lockdown in a bid to save their businesses from going under.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 8:01 am

Household mixing in pubs, bars and restaurants was banned in the city from Wednesday after it was placed into Tier 2 on the Government’s coronavirus alert system.

The British Beer & Pub Association said the Tier 2 restriction “kills” pubs’ business model, “making many of them totally unviable”, but the Government has provided no additional financial support.

Conor Smith, landlord at The Dog & Partridge on Trippet Lane, said: “It’s absolutely horrendous, it’s impossible to survive the way things are going. It’s going to be impossible without support.

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Members of the public enjoy their first drink in a beer garden (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

"It’s troubling times for the industry, without a doubt. The curfew was bad enough, it was an absolute disaster. It’s just reducing our capacity to return any money.”

Dean Thornby, who has run Cavells Café Bar on High Street for 27 years and The Roebuck on Charles Street since 2015, said: “Everywhere in the town centre was dead on Wednesday.

"We were making half the amount we were taking before lockdown, we are now making half of that [after the latest restrictions].”

Staff at the Bessemer on Leopold Street and Ego Mediterranean on Surrey Street also said business was quiet on the first day of the new restrictions. The Bessemer, which has already reduced its opening hours because of coronavirus, closed thirty minutes early at 7.30pm as a result.

On Wednesday The Red Deer on Pitt Street tweeted: “Empty pub, been viable for 10 years, but not looking likely under tier 2. We need support”.

It’s not just Sheffield city centre that’s been affected. Tanya Anyalacey, who works at the award-winning Wisewood Inn in Loxley said they severed just eight tables on Wednesday, “which is dead” by usual standards.

Asked whether he would stay open, Dean, 48, from Gleadless, said: “I’m sucking and seeing for the next seven days, I’ve got a feeling we will probably go into a higher tier by next Thursday.”

Conor said: “I’ll keep going as long as I can but the fixed costs aren’t coming down. All the costs are staying high.”

As well as rent arrears caused by the pub’s forced closure for three months, Conor has to pay for extra staff to provide table service and extra heating and lighting with winter coming.

Meanwhile, Dean, whose businesses offer a food option, has faced difficulty knowing how much stock to order and enforcing the ‘same household’ rule, having been told he doesn’t have the power to ask people to prove they live together.

He said: “My head totally just says ‘Close me’. We’re probably breaking even at the moment. You’re in limbo because there’s no incentive to stay open but the bills are still coming in.”

Before lockdown, up to 200 people visited The Roebuck on a regular Wednesday night. Just 25 turned up this week.

The Government will provide extra money for businesses in Tier 3 areas forced to close but Sheffield’s director of Public Health said the support package is not enough.

Conor said: "I’ve got nothing against a full lockdown as long as there’s some support for businesses. That would be a lot better than the current situation.

“I’ve had this pub for eight years and it’s a viable business, I don’t want to retrain as a ballet dancer.”