Sheffield pubs and bars left to count the cost of third coronavirus lockdown in less than a year

Two Sheffield business owners have provided an insight into the struggles faced by city firms as the country enters the third coronavirus ‘lockdown’ in less than a year.

Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 4:54 pm

On Tuesday, the whole of the UK was plunged into another period of extended lockdown, after cases of Covid-19 threatened to get out of control across the country.

However, the decision left Sheffield businesses who had been hoping for a better new year contending with a crisis which shows no sign of stopping and which is robbing them of their livelihoods.

Nick Simmonite, the chair of Unight, a body which represents dozens of city centre pubs, bars and nightclubs, is himself the landlord of the popular Frog and Parrot pub on Division Street.

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Nick Simmonite at the Frog and Parrot.

He said that their members were a ‘resilient and innovative bunch’ who had ‘tried everything’, but that things were now looking ‘pretty bleak’.

“Lockdown for some will have come as a bit of a relief but slowly and quietly some operators are exiting the night time economy,” he said.

“There is no prospect of any real financial support from central Government and some will say they just can’t make it stack up anymore.”

Nick said the latest lockdown meant that even if they were to reopen this spring, some city centre nightclubs will then have been closed for an entire year.

Maurice Champeau of Crookes Working Men's Club.

“They really have been hung out to dry,” he said.

“And even some of the organisations that you wouldn’t think would go to the wall like Hallam’s students’ union are making redundancies.

“Lots of people are really on their uppers now and I just hope we can help most of them survive.”

Outside the city centre, Maurice Champeau from Crookes Social Club said they were not quite at desperation levels yet – but that they were approaching it.

“We were hoping for a better year and maybe to open in February but now it looks like April at the earliest,” he said.

"At the moment the lockdown is costing us about £3,500 a month and we will end up £20-25,000 in debt at the end of it all. We will be paying for Covid for years to come.”

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 digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.