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Coronavirus Kent: Landlord of The Dead Pigeon, in Rochester, calls for clarity on pubs staying closed until Christmas

A landlord has criticised the government for not being clearer about the re-opening of pubs after the coronavirus lockdown ends – as fears grow that they might not open until Christmas.

It comes after cabinet minister Michael Gove warned yesterday that pubs across the UK would be ‘among the last’ to see restrictions relaxed.

Pubs could stay closed until December
Pubs could stay closed until December

Jamie Clark, who co-owns The Dead Pigeon in Rochester, said without clarification from government ministers, landlords across the county are being left in the dark about the future of their business.

The 31-year-old said: "It will probably be December, and it won't surprise me to be honest.

"There's a lot of support between pub group owners because we all want everyone to survive.

"We believe in the pub as a social establishment, so we're all in it together.

"But the problem is you have so many different rumours and no one knows what's right - we're just having to go by what government officials say on TV right now.

Jamie Clark (left) and Tom Mudge co-own The Dead Pigeon
Jamie Clark (left) and Tom Mudge co-own The Dead Pigeon

"We've had nothing from anyone in regards to reopening."

Despite there being no direct communication from government, Mr Clark believes there will be limits to the number of people allowed in each premises once they can open their doors.

He said: "I think the smaller places will be even more restricted - say 20 to 30 people in at a time, with the social distancing.

"A lot of pubs and bars have been built for socialising, they're quite compact, so yeah it wouldn't surprise me if we're the last to open."

"But adapting to something when you don't know what's going to happen is near impossible - because you could try adapting to something that's not even the case."

"We've had nothing from anyone in regards to reopening..."

Despite the need for clarification, Mr Clark and his business partner Tom Mudge have been hard at work organising deliveries of their food and draught beer to people throughout the Medway Towns.

He said: "It's a lot of hard work because we've had to adapt really quickly without a lot of practice, but the interest has been really good and that's what we care about.

"We had a quiz master who worked for us who can obviously no longer do quizzes, but is now doing delivery driving so we've managed to help him stay employed."

His comments come as the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) called for urgent support for pubs to ensure they can survive the extended coronavirus lockdown.

The trade body said the government should extend and expand its business grant support scheme specifically for pubs, so they can increase their cash flow whilst they are closed.

Pubs have adapted by delivering beer and food Picture: iStock/PA
Pubs have adapted by delivering beer and food Picture: iStock/PA

It also said an extension of the furlough scheme for pubs could be pivotal in saving millions of jobs created by the sector.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "The government have said they will make decisions on lifting the lockdown and loosening restrictions by following scientific and medical advice.

"We all want to get back to the Great British Pub, but fully understand they need to re-open under safe and sustainable conditions - both for their staff and customers.

"If pubs are going to be the last to re-open, then it’s only right the government gives extra support to them to help ensure their survival.

"We are clear that unless the Government gives specific support to pubs now, thousands of them in communities across the UK could be lost for good. And with them hundreds of thousands of jobs too."

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