NEWPORT pub landlords have said the confirmation that they will be able to re-open outdoors from next Monday, April 26, does not mean the difficult period their businesses have faced is at an end.

On Monday the Welsh Government announced six people from any number of households can meet outdoors from Saturday, in time for pubs reopening outdoors on Monday, April 26.

But some publicans say they will be opening under intense pressure to earn at a time where the odds are fiercely stacked against them.

They have only a few days now to prepare, but will have to do so with next to no funding from the Welsh Government until at least after the Senedd election on May 6.

Landlord Rob Steed says he cannot open both his pubs – the Measure Inn in Caldicot and The Lamb in Newport - due to a lack of outdoor space at the latter.

Free Press Series: Rob Steed, landlord at the Measure Inn and The Lamb

Rob Steed

“My costs by opening up at The Lamb would be heavily outweighed by what we’d take, because there is little room outside,” he explained.

“I’m hoping to make some money at the Measure Inn, which could make opening The Lamb viable.

“It’s extremely difficult though with a lack of funding. A pub requires between £5,000 and £10,000 to get up and running. How they think we’re going to do it with what we’ve been given so far is beyond me.”

Most medium-sized businesses in Wales – those with a rateable value of more than £12,000 – have received around £14,000 since the turn of the year, with the last one-off payment coming last month, which traders will need to make last until at least May 6.

In England, businesses were eligible for a restart grant to help them get up and running, which Mr Steed said would have given him a much-needed boost.

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“It’s not just the lack of funding – it’s the extra door staff we’ll need to employ to make sure people are properly adhering to the rules,” he said. “It all adds up and will put us in a tricky position.”

He also questioned guidelines where staff should take drinks out to tables, and believes it puts his workers at greater risk.

“Why can’t people come to the bar which is completely safe with a screen?," he said. "If they can come to the bar to order their drink why can’t they then take it with them? I do have concerns over the safety of my staff.”

Landlord at the Lyceum Tavern on Malpas Road Tony Cole says he will open outdoors, but believes he is in for a tough few weeks.

Free Press Series: Tony and Joanne Cole

Tony and Joanne Cole at the Lyceum Tavern

“We don’t have a big area outdoors so it’s not going to be ideal, but we’re committed to making it work,” he said.

“I feel very sorry for other landlords who can’t open, while some landlords own pubs with large fields in the back. I do feel there should be support for those who can’t open, or those who can but only with a limited space.

“I did think we’d have more support financially than what we’ve had. Especially as we’ll double our costs in making sure we’re Covid proof, with double the staff.

“I can’t see us making much money at all, but I hope we can stabilise things.”

Some landlords – like Craig Davies at the Red Lion on Stow Hill – cannot open.

Free Press Series: Craig Davies at the Red Lion on Stow Hill

Craig Davies

“Our beer garden is that small we’d be lucky to get five people out there with social distancing,” he said. “With very little funding we just are not able to make it work.

“I hope we will be able to open soon, but I have a strong feeling that time is a long way from now.

“I’m fortunate I am still getting rent relief, but I’m very concerned for other pubs who can’t open and do not have that support. I think many will begin closing for good.

“There just doesn’t seem any light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.

“It’s such a shame because we’re a community pub and I do feel people rely on us. For so many people this is the place where they socialise.

“I often lie awake in bed worrying about them, thinking about people I need to ring to make sure they’re all right.

“We’re more than a pub, and I think that’s probably been forgotten a bit in recent times.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: "We have made unprecedented levels of funding available to support Welsh businesses during these incredibly challenging times, with a full 12-month rates holiday package for those in the hardest hit sectors. To date we have provided more than £2 billion in business support during the pandemic, safeguarding 165,000 Welsh jobs.

“Our comprehensive package of financial support for Welsh businesses will continue throughout April and into May. Many businesses will already have received their full share of the £180 million funding announced in mid-March upfront to see them through until May, for others, including in the hospitality and tourism sector, cash grants will continue to be paid during April as applications are confirmed.

“Businesses will therefore see no interruption in the flow of financial support, as we move cautiously to relax public health restrictions.

“Another £200 million in additional support for business has already been earmarked in the Final Budget 2021-22. Ministers have had a constructive meeting with representatives from the hospitality sector and Welsh Government officials will work with them on options for a further support package to be put to the new Government following May’s Senedd election.”

"A pub, hotel or restaurant in Wales with ten staff would have been entitled to £45,000 in Welsh Government support to see them through from December onwards. This is on top of our business rates relief scheme and UK Government support to cover staff costs."