Sheffield landlords say it's 'not worth it' to reopen in April for outdoor service only

Sheffield pub and bar owners have criticised the Government’s plan to allow them to only open for outdoor service as lockdown restrictions ease in April.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 9:24 pm

Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a speech in the House of Commons outlining his ‘roadmap’ for coming out of lockdown.

The plan states that from April 12 ‘outdoor hospitality’ will resume. This will apply to pubs, bars and restaurants as well as zoos and theme parks.

Indoor service will still be banned, with the rules on that not set to change until May 17 at the earliest.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sheffield Landlord Conor Smith outside his pub Dog & Partridge

There will be no curfews or rules around compulsory service of ‘substantial meals’ for venues reopening.

While the change in April is good news for some establishments, others in Sheffield have said that their limited outdoor space, coupled with the expense of opening up and running the bar, mean it is not viable to reopen for outside service only.

Conor Smith, landlord of the Dog and Partridge on Trippet Lane, said: “I think it's probably right to be cautious with reopening, but if it's outdoor only, I certainly won't be opening.

"We have very small outdoor space and it just wouldn't be viable for us.”

Limited outside space at Kelham Island Wine Bar.

And when asked about whether his business could survive until indoor opening was permitted, potentially in May, he added: "We should only open when the scientific evidence says it is safe to do so.

"I would hope that there will be enough financial support so that we can survive that long, and meet reopening costs and cash flow requirements, while trade normalises.

"I'm trying not to get fixated on a particular date just yet, though. When data from the reopened schools comes in, if it's good, then hopefully we'll get a better idea.”

Ruth Atkinson, owner of Kelham Island Wine Bar, also said that the outdoor-only rule would not make it viable for her business to trade in April, especially with unpredictable Spring weather being a factor.

She said of the policy: "We think it is extremely problematic and doesn’t allow freedom to trade and make money.

"We have bifold doors and would have welcomed an opportunity to open these up and circulate fresh air inside instead.

"Given the unpredictable weather in the UK we don’t think opening up outside area alone is enough.”

In the plan he outlined in the Commons this afternoon, Boris Johnson suggested the four ‘steps’ that make up the plan would be implemented between March and June.

Step one, on 8 March, will see schools reopening and two people allowed to meet outdoors for a chat.

From 29 March outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, as will outdoor sports including golf, tennis and football.

Step two would see shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality reopening from 12 April in England.

Step three would start on 17 May with most social contact rules lifted, as well as limited mixing indoors including indoor hospitality with the ‘rule of six’ in place.

And the Prime Minister said that he hopes that step four, from 21 June, would see the end of all legal limits on social contact.

Before proceeding to the next step each time, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps.

The decision to move to the next step will be based on four ‘tests’.