Struggling Bath pub may have to close for half the week just to survive amid Covid woes

  • Watch Richard Payne's report

Pub owners in a village near Bath have said they fear the lifting of 'Plan B' restrictions will not solve the problems the hospitality industry has faced during the pandemic.

The co-owner of a pub in Hinton Charterhouse says he is considering closing for half the week in order to keep the pub going.

The Rose and Crown - a finalist in the Bath Life Awards for the second year running - says government grants do not cover the rent, and sales aren't covering wages.

From tomorrow (January 27), 'Plan B' Covid restrictions will be easing, meaning vaccine passports will no longer be needed to gain entry to large venues and face coverings won't be compulsory in public places.

Isolation for those who test positive is also set to be abandoned by the end of March.

But the co-owner of the pub, Nigel Songhurst, says this isn't necessarily good news for his business. In fact, he says they may have to reduce rather than expand opening hours.

"We already shut one-and-a half days a week and we might have to extend it to two-and-a-half days a week.

Nigel says they have had to shut the pub on some days to save money.

"Last Tuesday, we had seven people in. Three drinkers and four diners and that's just not enough to pay the wages for that evening, let alone electric and gas."

Long-term staff member Claire Murray recently returned from being on furlough for a year and says she's fearful for the future of the pub.

"I was sceptical about what was going to happen. I've just taken each day as it comes. Because I don't think you can really plan anything in the world that we live in right this second."

The Stagg Inn is a pub in the same village that has also felt the strain of the pandemic. Owner Chris Parkin says he thinks the hospitality industry has changed for good as a result.

Annual turnover has decreased from £500,000 to £150,000 and staff numbers have gone down from 45 to just 10.

In addition to the furlough scheme, the government also introduced a temporary reduced rate of VAT to help businesses buy supplies, but this is due to end at the end of March.

While he's grateful for the government's support throughout the pandemic, he says it's crucial it continues in order for businesses like his to survive.

Chris says the only thing that kept his business going during the pandemic was takeaway Sunday roasts.

"People are still worried", he said. "People who ring me now to book tables are still concerned about other people and you can't manage that.

"It would be lovely to say to you 'yeah, we're all going to be back to normal', but if I'm honest I think pubs are changing.

"I think the way people work's changed and I think we have to change with it."