Cardiff restaurant owner fears 'difficult times ahead' as lockdown comes into force

Cerys Furlong and Jason Wilks
Cerys Furlong and Jason Hicks were on The New Normal with Adrian Masters podcast. Credit: ITV Wales

A pub and restaurant manager from Cardiff has told ITV Wales that the last six months of business have been "the most challenging" in her career.

Speaking on the latest episode of the The New Normal with Adrian Masters podcast Cerys Furlong, who owns Milkwood in Cardiff, also said that she feared there was a difficult year ahead for businesses.

Cerys, a member of the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective, also discussed the impact the next two weeks could have on businesses as Wales approaches a strict 17-day lockdown.

The new restrictions are similar to those introduced during the first lockdown in March, with restaurants and bars being forced to close to the public again.

Speaking on the podcast, Cerys said: "It has been a rollercoaster of emotions and hugely draining at times.

"The only thing that keeps you from being frustrated is understanding that everybody is affected by this in different ways.

"It has been extremely difficult to get through the last 6 months and I think we have a difficult year ahead."

The new lockdown rules being introduced on Friday at 6pm at a glance:

  • People must stay at home, except for very limited purposes

  • People must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with

  • Certain businesses and venues, including bars, restaurants and most shops, must close

  • Secondary schools will provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years seven and eight. Primary schools and childcare settings will remain open.

  • Face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), including on public transport and in taxis

Despite the bad news that the majority of businesses in the hospitality sector will be forced to close, Cerys revealed that it was a slight "relief" to get some clear guidance amid the uncertainty throughout much of 2020.

"The three weeks prior to the announcement were the hardest that many of us have ever experienced," she said.

"The idea of that dragging on and on was awful, it felt like we were suffering some kind of slow strangulation without any support being put in place.

"Businesses have reported they are operating at a capacity of 25% to 45% which is obviously not viable for the long term."

Cerys was joined on the podcast by Cwmbran High School Headteacher Jason Hicks who said that whilst he had found recent months in his sector stressful, he could at least take some comfort that his "livelihood is not under threat" like many others in the country.

Adrian Masters spoke with Cerys Furlong and Jason Hicks as part of the latest episode on his podcast. Credit: ITV Wales

"We are trying to act in phases at the moment but most of my working day is filled with coronavirus related issues," he explained.

"My anxieties are about students and teachers but my livelihood is not under threat like so many of my friends and family members are likely to be because of this virus.

"We in education need to be thankful for that as other people are not in that position."

Listen to the podcast below.

Mr Hicks also discussed the possibility of students taking exams at the end of this academic year, after Scotland confirmed that exams would not take place. An official decision is yet to be made in Wales.

"Personally at this point, I can't see any other way to do it other than to make teacher assessments in the time that's available now," he said.

"You have to rely on the professionals to be able to say perhaps in a moderated fashion what those young people are capable of.

"It changes in to something different every day and certainly over the last week. Strategic planning has gone out the window for the time being, we are still trying to learn where are our students are at the moment.

"I hope that when we come out of this we see a real cultural shift."

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