The neighbouring pubs on different sides of the Wales-England border - and only one can open this weekend

The two pubs are just over a mile apart, but are subject to very different lockdown rules.

Two neighbouring pubs on the Wales-England border are facing a divide this weekend - because one can open while the other must remain closed.

From July 4, pubs across England can reopen but those in Wales can't until the Welsh Government gives the go-ahead.

For the Bridge Inn, just over the English border, it means a little bit of normality will resume on Saturday. After months of being closed due to the pandemic, the small village pub in Hereford will be able to welcome customers inside and serve pints from behind the bar.

Staff will be wearing masks and visitors must maintain a social distance, but it's a step towards the new normal.

The same can't be said for the Angel Inn, Abergavenny, which sits just over a mile away. It's situated on the other side of the River Monnow, which divides England and Wales. Although it's less than a half-hour walk away, it won't be open on Saturday.

The Angel Inn is run by Chloe Skinner and her partner Jim Hamilton. The two only took over the pub in September 2019, and just a few months later were forced to close.

Chloe, 30, said: "It's a really strange one. In a lot of ways we're really privileged because we're in a lovely little community with a lot of support. But it's so strange being a mile from the border. Our nearest pub to us is 1.2 miles down the road and they'll be open on Saturday but we won't."Our stance is that we're pleased with what the Welsh Government has done and that it is taking a more cautious response. And I do think it's too early for pubs to reopen, especially indoors."But because we're on the border, the contrast is so stark between us."

Chloe and Jim, who have three children between them, had to quickly adapt to the lockdown. They began offering takeaway fish and chips, Sunday lunches, deli boards and freshly baked bread.The sudden closure also gave them time to work on their new pub which would have proved difficult while it was open.

But financially it has been a massive blow, and they say not knowing when they can open again is starting to take its toll.

Chloe Skinner and her partner Jim Hamilton won't be opening the doors of the Angel Inn this weekend.

Over the border in England, landlord of the Bridge Inn William Chambers is busy getting ready for Saturday when the rules change.William and his wife have had the pub since February 2019. Since taking it over, they have been flooded twice and endured the pandemic, describing it as "an eventful few months".

They have made a number of changes to the pub ahead of the reopening. They'll have a one-way system, there will be a 'one-in-one-out' rule for the toilets, staff have been given extra training and a bar has been installed outside to reduce the flow of customers inside.William is looking forward to welcoming customers back, but is also worried that people will travel from further afield across the border to take advantage of the differences in rules."I've heard of buses from Abergavenny being organised coming to England for the weekend," he said.

"If they open the whole country all as one, then at least people would stay at their local pubs and everyone would be excited to go to their local. But now it's so obvious what's going to happen."There's alcohol involved, it's going to be social and it's going to be like that beach down in Bournemouth all over again. And I'm not looking forward to it."If they don't open in Wales, then England should have bit the bullet and not opened."

Bridge Inn landlord William Chambers is getting ready to reopen on Saturday.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “The hospitality sector is a vital part of the Welsh economy. We continue to work with the industry and local communities to ensure a safe return for the sector."The First Minister has asked for a rapid review of the hospitality sector to consider a potential phased re-opening of pubs, cafes and restaurants. Those discussions are taking place with a wide range of interests across the hospitality sector in Wales and have been constructive. We will announce our intentions when further headroom for change allows.“We have adopted a careful and gradual approach to easing the restrictions. We will be guided by the latest scientific and medical advice and will carefully monitor the impact of each change. People’s health and wellbeing is at the forefront of our approach to easing the restrictions.”

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