Burnley Hospitality Hell: 'If they shut us again then we are thinking of walking away'

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Thornton Arms licensee Jaimie Hopwood is considering walking away from the industry she loves if her pub is forced to close again this summer.

She also called the tier system a "waste of space", and said people don't know whether they are coming and going now when it comes to the rules.

Jaimie, who has worked at the pub for 15 years, was given the opportunity to take on the lease five years ago.

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"We went on to refurb the pub as it was quite dated," she said. "Trade has been good for us, but you can always do more! In the last few months of our lease we debated whether we would stay.

The Thornton ArmsThe Thornton Arms
The Thornton Arms

"We chose to renegotiate a deal with the brewery and decided on another refurb, and to stay for another five years.

"Little did we know what was about to happen! 2020 began and we got stuck into the refurb, which we spent £60,000 of our own money on. We relaunched the Thornton on Saturday, March 8th.

"Everyone loved the new look, but then coronavirus took over and we were forced to shut."

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Here's what Jaimie had to say on what life has been like under lockdown.

What do you miss most about being open?

We miss our customers and staff the most, it's a great community around this area and our customers are like family. We have been keeping in touch with the majority of them.

Do you think the pub/bar trade can survive another summer of disruption?

The opening and shutting of this trade is seriously having a detrimental effect. If they open us up in May and then choose to shut us again, we are seriously thinking of walking away!

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We have already had the conversation with our area manager of what our options are, as we have already lost a year's worth of trading; never mind the stock we have had to dispose of.

Is the tier system the right approach to exiting lockdown?

The tier system is an absolute waste of time. People are at the point now that they are fed up of the ever changing rules. You don't know if you are coming or going, never mind trying to put them in place in pubs.

I think it all comes down to people using their common sense.

Could the Government have done more to support the hospitality sector?

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We are very grateful to the Government for the grants we have received, and for the furlough scheme (allowing us to keep our workforce). But yes, I do believe they could have done more to help, and fingers crossed they also help us in the future to get us back on our feet.

Will Burnley bounce back stronger?

I absolutely believe Burnley will bounce back from this. Burnley people have proven in the past that they are a community that sticks together and helps each other out in the time of need.

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