Pubs and bars fear another tough month as lockdown easing delayed

Pubs, bars and restaurants across North Kirklees are resigned to another month of depressed profits after the ending of all lockdown restrictions was delayed until July 19.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 4:30 pm
Sarah and Jamie O'Donnell at the Navigation Tavern in Mirfield

There was disappointment and resignation as hospitality venues hoped to start the tills ringing again with so-called "Freedom Day" originally set for June 21.

But with rising cases of the so-called Delta variant, first identified in India, and the vaccine roll-out still with some way to go, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed his roadmap to normality back another month.

With England in football action at Euro 2020, many hospitality venues were hoping to cash in with the national team’s third group game against the Czech Republic being played on June 22, the day after restrictions were due to be lifted.

Nick Westwell, director of Origin bar in Batley, with legendary broadcaster John Helm, who is commentating live on England's Euro 2020 matches at the venue

Monday’s announcement meant that a Fan Zone event for the Czech Republic game at St Paul’s Church in Mirfield had to be cancelled, leaving 400 people who had booked tickets disappointed.

The Office wine bar in Mirfield had organised the event, along with a Freedom Party the day before, and a spokesman said they were “gutted”.

Refunds were on the way and the bar said in a Facebook post: “All a bit of a nightmare but the light is still there at the end of the tunnel! We’ve just got to wait a little longer to get there.”

At Origin bar in Batley veteran TV commentator John Helm has been drafted in to commentate on England matches and director Nick Westwell had hoped to fill his bar to an unrestricted capacity for the latter stages of the Euros but that hope has now been dashed.

“It’s devastating, it’s tough and we get deeper into debt by the day but the old bulldog spirit is needed,” he said. “We just carry on.”

At the Navigation Tavern in Mirfield Jamie O’Donnell was resigned to the extension of restrictions and said: “We knew where it was going from last week.

"At least it gives our young staff the chance to get vaccinated before everyone is packed shoulder to shoulder at the bar again.”

Jamie said the pub had just got table service off to a fine art but the wage bill was “huge”. Table service may remain in some part of the pub in future as many customers liked it.

Dewsbury's Tory MP Mark Eastwood said caution was the watchword.

“I completely understand the desire to get out of restrictions. However, by being cautious now, we have the chance to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people," he said.

“I think that's a better way to beat this, so we can get back to life without restrictions and instead of going back in and out of those measures.

“By comparison to many other countries, we’re still ahead of the curve in terms of freedoms, and we’ve got the end of this terrible virus in sight - but there is some way to go.

"I urge everyone to get the jab when they can.”