Burnley hospitality sector faces fight for survival as new restrictions come into force
Burnley pub, bar and restaurant owners are fearing for the future of their industry as life under the new 10pm curfew begins to take hold.
The curfew came into force for establishments across the borough on Tuesday, but the tighter measures will now be rolled out nationally from today (Thursday).
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the restrictions, which could last for six months, were being brought in to curb the rapidly increasing spread of coronavirus.
Venues will now be restricted to table service only, with pubs, bars and restaurants facing the threat of closure if they fail to comply with restrictions. The fine for flouting the ‘rule of six’ has also doubled to £200.
Natalie George, who runs The Gallery at Creative Arts Studio, said she had no idea how her business was going to survive following this latest raft of legislation.
"As a grass roots live music venue the 10pm curfew will hit us extremely hard as our first live performance usually takes place around 9pm. We have already lost a few of our bookings due to the 10pm curfew and we may lose many more now.
"Takings were already down massively due to the reduced capacity but now we have super limited opening hours too, I just don’t know how we will survive.
"This could potentially ruin the sector completely, many venues have already closed due to these restrictions and many more face closure, leaving owners to deal with the stress of trying to make ends meet."
Remedy has announced that it will be closing every Friday until further notice, instead focusing on Saturdays when the bar will now open earlier.
Gaz Ali, one of the joint owners, said the curfew would "cripple" business as this was their busiest period, but he did hope it would encourage more people to come out earlier.
He, along with Ben Blackburn, also called on local licensing and the government to ensure guidance was not only made clear, but adhered to across all venues.
Madge Nawaz, who runs Penny Black, said he thought these latest measures were going to have a huge impact on bars.
"Restaurants might be OK, because people go out early for something to eat and then head on to a bar for a few drinks.
"I can see more venues closing. It's impossible to cover the bills unless the government is willing to offer more support.
"All rules are set by the government, not by venue owners and trying to get the general public to follow the rules, it's impossible."
Visitors to pubs and restaurants will now have to, by law, wear masks when they move around the venue.
While Palazzo owner Pino Cafasso said he had no issue with people wearing masks, he is worried that continuous restrictions will eventually take their toll.
"Of course it's going to affect us. But I think it will hit pubs harder. How are they supposed to survive? I think a lot of them will close.
"I think it's [the curfew] wrong. I have had no problems since we re-opened a few weeks ago. People have been respecting the rules, even the younger ones.
"I am glad about the masks. I think it should have been done earlier. In Italy it has been going well, and they have been wearing masks since they came out of lockdown. They wear them on the beaches, even when they're sunbathing."
These latest measures come amid fears the UK could see 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by the middle of October without action.
People are being told to work from home if they can, the number of people allowed at weddings in England has been halved, and plans for spectators to return to sporting events have been shelved.
The latter is yet another blow for the pub trade, especially those located close to football grounds.
Royal Dyche landlady Justine Lorriman said: "It’s going to be strange calling last orders at 9-30pm on a weekend, Burnley kick off at 8pm this Saturday and we will be calling last orders before the game is even finished.
"It will put people off coming out, I can only see more permanent closures of pubs and clubs, it’s heartbreaking to see. Especially now you have to wear masks unless you are seated.
"We have many customers who walk away now when asking to do the track and trace, imagine how many will walk away when asked to wear a mask.
"If they don’t see an improvement on the current situation and the cases/deaths continue to rise (even after making masks compulsory in pubs and closing at 10pm) I feel pubs would be the first to be closed again. Even if this does happen I worry we won’t get any more financial help from the government.
"You just have to keep thinking positive and take things day by day. We are still trading seven days a week, we have a good system in place and we have a strong customer support, things could be a lot worse for us."