Fears for Ribble Valley pubs, bars and restaurants as Tier 3 restrictions come into force tomorrow
Landlords have slammed the Government's three-tier coronavirus system after pubs and bars were forced to remain closed in the Ribble Valley.
As reported previously, Lancashire has again been put into the highest tier of restrictions as the national lockdown ends.
The tier regime will come into effect tomorrow (December 2nd).
Under this tougher Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will remain closed, except for takeaway/delivery, ahead of a scheduled review on December 16th.
The news has upset and angered lots of people in the hospitality sector who have branded the tier system "a crushing blow" for people working in pubs and restaurants.
Terry Joy, who runs the Swan and Royal Hotel in Castle Street, told the Clitheroe Advertiser that the restrictions are "devastating" and "totally inappropriate" for the pub industry.
He explained: "We did everything what the Government asked us to. We invested lots of money buying hand santisers, making sure the pub was covid safe, We brought in track and trace, made sure all our tables were spaced apart properly.
"The hospitality industry has been blamed for spreading the virus, but the evidence is anything but clear-cut. We are limited as to how many local people can come into our pub, however, you walk into a supermarket and it's packed with people."
"We had so much planned in the month of December. We always organise the Christmas with Santa lunch, which has proved extremely popular in previous years. Unfortunately, we won't be able to hold this now. Our staff and regular customers are upset by the Government's decision."
Similar concerns have been shared by Holmes Mill commercial director, Warren Bennett. He said: "It's disappointing that the Government didn't listen to the county-wide plea to divide the county into two lockdown blocks, with a request to place Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Pendle in Tier 3 and Blackpool, Lancaster, Fylde, Wyre, Chorley, South Ribble, Ribble Valley in the less severe Tier 2.
"There is no proven evidence to suggest pubs, bars and restaurants are a major source of Covid transmissions. Yet, we remain closed.
"The hospitality sector contributes a massive chunk towards the Ribble Valley economy. Where we buy meat from, linen from etc - it's all those local firms that are struggling due to the tougher restrictions."
Meanwhile, Laura Smithies, landlady of the town's Brown Cow, says once pubs are allowed to reopen, it's important to protect staff alongside regular customers.
She explained: "I know Tier 2 wouldn't make much difference to us as a business, but I believe that Clitheroe deserves to open as much as it can. Unfortunately, last time it was not organised responsibly. We opened for locals and the people of Clitheroe. We managed this by putting out signs saying bookings only and allowing our locals in as priority. Even if we were not full we would reserve tables to allow them to be filled with regulars. This way our customers felt safe and we knew who and when people had been in. We may not have made a fortune but we ticked along happily.
"Unfortunately, it is believed other establishments did not do the same. I believe that postcodes and Id should be provided to discourage people coming from high risk areas. I believe the Ribble Valley could keep going and save businesses even with a smaller customer base.,Publicans should have the backing of the council and the police to be able to refuse out-of-tier customers."