BEER gardens and terraces may have reopened as part of Boris Johnson's 'roadmap' to ease Covid restrictions.

But pubs still face many trials in their fight to survive the pandemic as the downpours at the end of last week and at the weekend showed.

Stretton Fox had to make the hard decision to shut its doors for part of Thursday and Friday and all of Saturday.

Every customer that had pre-booked had to be called and as well as losing money in the tills, staff lost out on shifts and food was wasted.

General manager Michael Newton said: "It’s been horrendous. It was alright for the first couple of weeks when pub gardens reopened with the weather being great.

"But opening and closing a business and losing stock and calling the team off and then starting all over again has been really difficult.

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

"I'm so glad it’s just days to go now until we can bring customers back inside on May 17.

The Spark Hall Close pub has faced criticisms for closing from customers keen to see family and friends after the lockdown but, with the weather being out of his control, Michael said he is as frustrated as they are.

He added: "You’re calling guests and then they’re complaining but when you’ve got your team coming in with cold hands and they’re getting wet outside it’s all about their safety in my eyes."

Michael reckons the stormy weekend saw the pub down by about £19,000 between Friday and Sunday.

He said: "People will turn up with their jackets and their hats on and they are being very supportive in terms of being willing to sit there in the cold and trying to get money in the tills but it’s not fair really is it?"

Supervisor Chloe Jo added: "On Saturday we had 200 covers in so it does affect a lot of people. We try our best to explain as we only close at the worst times when it is absolutely throwing it down.

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

"Our garden isn’t completely covered either. There are only two sections with tables underneath that are covered.

"It is difficult. Guests have been unhappy with cancellations as they’d arranged to meet family they’d not seen for ages. We understand their frustrations but it is a situation that is out of our control.

"Some of the guests still want to come regardless of the weather but the team would get soaked, the food would get wet and they might slip.

"Working for 10 hours in that – nobody wants that. Sometimes we close based on the wind because again it’s unsafe with the brollies being up.

"We feel lucky to have an outdoor space and to have been able to trade in April and May as a lot of pubs don’t have that but we’re all looking forward to getting back inside now.

"The last thing we want to do is close. It’s our livelihood. We don’t take the decision lightly. We don’t close if it’s a small shower now and then but if it’s continuous wind and rain we don’t want people out in that. We don’t want them getting poorly."

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

Another reason that Michael is looking forward to serving food and drink inside from May 17 is the certainty for his staff.

He said: "The full team used to be 53. I’ve only got about 30 now but I’ve taken 12 on in the past week.

"I’ve had to try and get them trained as quickly as possible as this is a busy site and when we open inside I’ve got to make sure my team is up to scratch.

"In terms of calling staff off when the weather is bad, I’ve got some of them working for me that aren’t entitled to furlough so I’ve got to think about them as well.

"But if it’s raining all day there is no point in us opening and putting the team through that."

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

Mike Newton at the Stretton Fox

Chloe added: "We try and give staff as much notice as possible as we don’t want to create an inconvenience for them."

Now with the goalposts in sight, Michael is confident Warrington pubs like the Stretton Fox can bounce back.

He said: "I think it will be a busy time and we’ll recover fast but it’s a shame for others as there are businesses that we have lost."