Hospitality businesses to lose out as thousands expected to cross the border for New Year's Eve

Thousands are expected to travel across the border for a New Year's Eve free of restrictions. Credit: PA

Hospitality businesses across Wales are set to lose out this New Year's Eve as many travel across the border for celebrations free of restrictions.

Thousands of people are expected to escape to England on Friday night following recent restrictions imposed by Mark Drakeford amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

Chelly Jones, who runs the Stanton House Inn in Chirk, Wrexham, with her husband, said she has cancelled live entertainment they had initially planned for New Year's Eve.

Mrs Jones, whose pub is less than half a mile from the border, said: "Christmas has been a disaster, we've never had a year like it.

"The week before Christmas, the new restrictions in Wales killed our profits. There's a pub just across from us who are able to do whatever they want on New Year's Eve. If people want to go party they only have to walk a mile up the road."

Mrs Jones said people in Wales feel they are "fighting a losing battle" as those crossing the border could return with coronavirus, negating the efforts of people following restrictions.

£120 million in funding will be available for a number of sectors including hospitality, the Welsh Government has announced.

Following the recent announcement, the rule of six and table service is now in place across the hospitality sector in Wales. Nightclubs remain closed.

Face coverings will have to be worn at all times except for when seated, with staff once again required to take customers' contact details for contact tracing purposes.

It is hoped the further restrictions will help control the spread of the Omicron variant.

Welsh Government has announced some funding to help support businesses, like nightclubs and those in the hospitality sector, affected by the changes in restrictions.

Joe Lynch has been running Con Amici Italian restaurant and bar in Denbigh for more than a decade and thinks the rules should be the same across all four nations, particularly as he operates a business so close to the English border.

Mr Lynch believes some businesses may not make it through to the new year due to "constant" changes in the coronavirus rules in Wales.

Mr Lynch said he has already noticed a change in customer's habits throughout the pandemic which affects his business. He has had cancellations because larger groups can no longer dine out together and said the hospitality sector has taken "a beating during this pandemic".

As a consequence, he believes more people are eating earlier and throughout the day, which makes for quieter evenings at the bar.

Mr Lynch said he is "not convinced" he will see a normal New Year's Eve.

He said: "It's normally a fantastic day and night - one of the busiest nights of the year - but already we've had cancellations because people can't come out in groups.

"So again, I'm not convinced we will have a normal New Year's Eve night. We don't know what's normal anymore, but yes I'm not sure what it's going to be like.

"We won't have any music on, it'll just be background music, we won't have anything special like we normally do because we're not in a position to be able to do that at the moment."

As New Year’s Eve and a new year approaches, Joe fears not all hospitality businesses will make it through.

Despite this, he believes the pandemic has been handled well and that businesses have been supported by furlough and grants.

However, his biggest fear is that staff sickness would cause him to close. Without furlough, he couldn’t afford to pay his staff with no income coming in.

Funding of £120 million will be available for hospitality, nightclubs, retail, leisure and tourism businesses affected by the new measures.

Speaking on the revised version of Alert Level Two, Mark Drakeford said: "We will do everything we can to protect people’s health and livelihoods in Wales – this means taking early action to try and control its spread.

"We are facing a very serious situation in Wales. A wave of infections caused by the new, fast-moving and very infectious Omicron variant is headed our way."