THE 10pm curfew on bars and clubs has wiped out trade and threatens to kill Newport's night-time economy, according to city publicans.

Some venues in Newport have seen their footfall drop by as much as 80 per cent since the Welsh Government introduced the 10pm blanket ban on alcohol sales in licensed premises, nearly three weeks ago.

The curfew is an extra weight of responsibility for landlords and their staff, who must also make sure customers wear masks, provide contact-tracing details, are from a single household - because Newport is in local lockdown - practise social-distancing, and do not have any coronavirus symptoms.

But unlike the other public health regulations, publicans say the 10pm rule poses an existential threat to their businesses, which rely so heavily on evening and late-night trade.


Rob Steed, who manages The Lamb in Bridge Street, said late evenings had been "dead" in the city since the 10pm rule was introduced.

"Around 70 per cent of trade has gone," he said. "Some days you'd think it'd be easier to just shut, although other days are better."

Mr Steed has managed The Lamb since January but has a decade's experience of running pubs in Newport, and he is also the landlord of The Measure Inn, in Caldicot.

He said the current period is "the quietest it has ever been" for city pubs.

"Especially in Newport, people don't like to go out until 10pm, so by the time they're ready to go out the pubs are closing," he said. "It's had a massive effect on the whole centre."

Mr Steed said it had been especially disappointing to hear of people having illegal house parties while pubs did everything they could to comply with the rules.

Sam Dabb, who manages Le Pub in the city's High Street, last week penned an open letter to Wales' first minister Mark Drakeford and the UK's other government leaders.

She said pubs and clubs had worked hard and spent substantially on protective measures to allow a safe re-opening of the sector in the summer.

But publicans are being punished, rather than commended, for their diligence by a "stupid, pointless curfew" that could prove financially disastrous, she said.

"If hospitality is dangerous, close us down," she said, adding: "This limbo you have left us in is cruel and unsustainable."

At Slipping Jimmy's Bar and Grill, also in High Street, Sue Reynolds and her husband Steve said the curfew could be "the final nail in the coffin" for many in the hospitality trade following months of uncertainty.

"Most bars make money from 10pm to 1am, so we've lost around 80 per cent of our takings," Mrs Reynolds said, adding that publicans were also running a gauntlet of "relentless" inspections by enforcement officers.

She said some rules, such as those on 'background' music, were subjective and complicating matters at an already stressful time.

"It's no wonder landlords are deciding to throw the towel in and close the pubs," Mrs Reynolds said. "The only outcome is dead city centres and a loss of trade for the other restaurants, takeaways, and taxi drivers."

The Argus put the publicans' concerns to the Welsh Government.

In response, a spokesman said "we thank the hospitality industry for its help and support" and said "there was a clear consensus about the need to introduce a limit on the sale of alcohol".

He added: “Local public health teams have reported issues with a deterioration of social distancing late at night, linked to alcohol consumption.

"Alcohol can also make it difficult for people to remember all the premises they have visited during a night out, which is crucial for effective contact tracing."