Published: 13:08, 18 September 2020
| Updated: 13:11, 18 September 2020
Landlords fear they will have to make redundancies if a second national lockdown is imposed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this morning that a tightening of coronavirus restrictions has not been ruled out by the government as it continues to view the measure as its "last line of defence”.
But Canterbury pub magnate Charles Smythe says such a move would result in his debts, which already stand at about £200,000, increasing.
"We've opened four of my pubs since August, and we've been doing okay because we've got large gardens," the businessman, who runs five pubs across the city, said.
"The main thing I'm worried about - other than the virus spreading - is if they completely shut everything down and furlough has pretty much ended, how am I going to pay my staff?
"I will not be able to pay my staff and retain them if we have no money coming in."
West Malling publican Tina Beadle also predicts that a second shutdown would mean she would have to cut jobs at her pub, Scared Crow.
But she also believes that beer-drinkers will become reluctant to visit their locals if the strict rules are reintroduced.
"A small pub like mine wouldn't survive," she explained.
"The government have just spent all that money to build up people's confidence and now if we have another lockdown that will all be diminished.
"We would have to go back to takeaways, but without the financial support from the government we wouldn't have got through before, even with takeaways.
"It would just have an all-round detrimental effect on pubs like this and the community which we're part of."
This came after new figures showed that hospital admissions are doubling every eight days, amid warnings that deaths will rise in the coming weeks.
Scientists from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have reportedly proposed a two-week national lockdown in October to tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Hancock said the government's current approach was “targeted interventions”, like those seen in the north.
But he added: "As we saw in the spring, it is the thing that we can do to keep people safe if that’s needed.
“So we’re watching vigilantly, but we can see the number of cases accelerating, and we’re prepared to do what it takes both to protect lives and to protect livelihoods, and of course, both are so important.
“We want to avoid a national lockdown but we’re prepared to do it, if we need to.”
Reports this morning suggested ministers are considering further countrywide changes, even for just a two-week period, such as imposing a curfew on bars and restaurants, as Covid-19 cases continue rise.
However, Mr Smythe says reduced opening hours would force him into having to temporarily close two of his pubs.
"If they bring the curfew in, as they're doing in the north of England, I may as well close The Seven Stars and The Black Griffin because late nights Friday and Saturday are the bulk of our business," he said.
"We're still standing still at the moment, but we're hoping that if we can carry on trading, we can come out of the debt in the next 18 months."
Over in Ashford owner of Park Mall's The Little Teapot, Russell Geen, said: "With a second lockdown, it would affect us because though we've got an outside delivery service, it would impact us because it's not that busy.
"It was busy at the start of the first lockdown because we were one of the very first people to do it but now it seems like everyone's doing it.
"I don't think there'll be a second lockdown. I think it will just be local lockdowns and I can't see there being one here.
"The majority of cases at the William Harvey Hospital come from elsewhere, and infections here are very low at the moment."