PUBS and bars that do not serve food were plunged into uncertainty after being forced to close their doors as the tier three restrictions came into force.

The tough measures for the town were introduced at 00.01am on Tuesday after it was given a ‘very high’ Covid alert level.

People in the borough must not socialise with anybody they don’t live with – unless they have formed a household or childcare support bubble – in any indoor setting or venue, including homes or restaurants.

Furthermore, residents must not socialise with anybody they don’t live with, unless they have the same exemption, in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.

Meanwhile, under the new rules, pubs and bars that do not serve substantial meals as a restaurant, like a main lunchtime or evening meal, must close.

It is another major blow to the town’s hospitality industry after months of damage to businesses because of the pandemic.

Non-food town centre bars Hideout, on Sankey Street, and Block 1, on Bold Street, are among those required to close.

Warrington Guardian:


Owner James Glover says starting to serve food to stay open would have been a bridge too far at this point.

However, his other business Louie’s Pizza at Warrington Market remains open.

James said the Christmas period is a crucial part of the calendar for bars but admits he has almost ‘written off’ this year because of the way it is going.

He added: “I just don’t know what the exit strategy is.

“What’s the plan? How long is it going to go on for?”

The two Covid-19 secure venues introduced a range of safety measures.

But James says the recent ban on different households mixing in indoor settings, as part of the borough’s enhanced measures, ‘really killed us’.

“Since then it has never really got back to how it was,” he said.

“The best thing probably is being closed with a bit of support but the support’s not that great, depending on your rateable value.”

The two sites employ 15 to 20 members of staff overall but while costs have increased amid Covid-19, takings have decreased, with capacity reduced by around 60 per cent.

James has been DJ’ing in Warrington since 2003 but says ‘nothing has made an impact like this’.

He said: “I just hope that it doesn’t last too long for us.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced the new three-tier system of Covid-19 alert levels in a bid to simplify local rules.

The new levels are set at medium, high and very high.

The ‘very high’ alert level, tier three, applies where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all the available data and the local situation.

This includes incidence and test positivity, including among older and more at-risk age groups, as well as the growth rate, hospital admissions and other factors.

Pubs and bars can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant and serve substantial meals.

They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.

The Blackburne Arms in Orford, on Orford Green, also shut its doors earlier this week as the tier three restrictions came into force.

Landlord Kiale Burt fears things will never ‘return to normal’.

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Kiale Burt

The 25-year-old also feels as though big companies are the ones being helped, rather than the smaller businesses.

He said: “To me, us little independent pubs, us that are trying to keep our head above water, us that are doing an amazing job and no one can see our little legs paddling, basically like a duck, head above water but legs kicking like mad underneath – those that can’t see that think ‘oh well they are just getting on with it, they are just coping’.

“But at the end of the day, these big guys that have got millions of pounds in the bank are the ones that are getting to stay open, which in my eyes are the ones that are getting the help really.

“For an independent pub like myself to have to do food, it’s an initial outlay of two grand to stock a kitchen and then I’ve got to buy plates, cutlery, I’ve got to buy condiments – so to me that isn’t a help at all whatsoever.”

Asked whether he is concerned about possibly not being able to reopen, he said: “That’s not something I am wanting to think about at the moment.

“I am trying to stay as positive as ever because you look at the news and it’s all full of negativity.

“No one is showing us a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Kiale has been in the industry since he was 18 but says nothing has come close to the challenge it is currently facing.

“We have never had a national lockdown, we have never been shut,” he said.

Kiale also admits his love for the job has taken a major hit during the pandemic.

He said: “I dread it. Staff do an amazing job and staff come to work and staff get the job done.

“But behind the scenes people don’t see the staff that are in tears when that door shuts, people don’t see staff that are not wanting to come in because they feel bad trying to enforce the rules to be honest, they feel like they are the bad one.

“It isn’t enjoyable.”