Pubs mull over April reopening - but only outdoors
Publicans say the Government's roadmap for recovery has left them with more questions than answers after it was revealed by the Prime Minster this afternoon.
Boris Johnson has said that drinking establishments will only be allowed to reopen on April 12 at the earliest - but only for service outdoors.
It will be at least five weeks after that, from May 17, that customers will be allowed back indoors, and only if the Covid situation allows it.
Landlords say outdoor opening may be unworkable for many pubs - with the great British weather a big factor.
Janine Vanden, licencee of the Black Bull in Longton, said: "After listening to Boris, I'm just not sure what to do. I'm going to have to have a good think to see if it is worth my while opening under those conditions.
"He says April 12 for outdoors, but we won't know until a week before whether we can actually do it. And although we have quite a big outside area I'm not sure how it's going to work.
"Will customers be allowed into the pub to use the loos or to get served. What about the weather? Let's face it no-one's going to want to sit outside if it's raining.
"And what about our staff? What will happen to furlough? Will our rents go back up to 100 per cent because we've been told we can reopen?
"It's left me with loads of questions which need answering before I can make a decision. I can't just decide on a whim, there's lots to think about."
Bosses at 1842 in Preston city centre are to hold a virtual meeting tomorrow to decide their next move after the Prime Minister's announcement.
They too are unclear how the rules will affect them if they decide to reopen outdoors in April.
"It might cost us more to open and take staff off furlough than to stay shut," said Lee Johnson, the Lune Street pub's ops and Covid response manager.
"There are a lot of questions for the hospitality trade which, hopefully, will be answered before we get to April. But it's disappointing.
"It's been a horrible time and we've just been trying to look after our staff, keeping in touch with them and making sure everyone is alright. There has been nothing we could tell them, we've all been in the same boat."