BEMUSED pub landlords in Monmouthshire say they fear the industry could be heading for potential collapse next spring, after the latest Welsh Government restrictions on serving alcohol in the build-up to Christmas.

Welsh pubs, restaurants and cafes will be banned from selling alcohol from Friday, and will be unable to open to customers beyond 6pm.

Announcing the news earlier this week, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the new restrictions will help tackle a rise in coronavirus cases, which have hit Gwent particularly hard in recent weeks.

But landlords have condemned the latest rule changes, saying many pubs will be left with almost nothing when the financial year comes to an end in the spring, and loans have to be repaid, coinciding with the end of the furlough scheme.

“It will kill many pub traders - three lockdowns in 10 months - it will be impossible to contend with for many,” said Miguel Santiago, restaurateur at the Beaufort Hotel in Raglan.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said he understood why companies in the industry are upset, but admitted there is "no perfect balance" between protecting public health and businesses.

Mr Drakeford said firms hit by the restrictions would be offered £340m in support, which he claimed is "the most generous package" anywhere in the UK.

But Mr Santiago believes the funding will not compensate for the loss in revenue for most pub traders.

“We are expecting to lose at least £21,000 now this month because of the latest changes. None of the funding I’ve heard about so far will compensate for that,” he said.

South Wales Argus:

Miguel Santiago

“We’ve spent yesterday and today ringing everyone who has booked tables later than 6pm, and tried our best to get them to rearrange - but most people can’t. They’d love to support us, but these changes are not conducive to people’s lives.”

Mr Santiago said news of the latest restrictions came as a surprise and, like most hospitality traders in Wales, he had spent thousands of pounds on preparing for a busy Christmas schedule.


“He (Mark Drakeford) should have said it sooner and given businesses the opportunity to alter their plans,” he added.

“Many traders will now have invested heavily in a Christmas menu and barrels of alcohol, much of which will not be used. The breweries won’t take those barrels back - they’re also struggling."

Determined to make the festive period as positive as possible, he says he will be continuing a festive menu with three sittings per day under the new restrictions, and will continue to offer takeaways.

Andrew Cox, new landlord at the Golden Lion at Magor Square, Magor, says he is perplexed by the new restrictions.

South Wales Argus:

Andrew Cox, left, and Paul Turner at the Golden Lion

“It’s a double whammy and I just can’t fathom it,” he said.

“To close at 6pm is one thing, but to not let us serve alcohol as well is ridiculous and will really hit the whole industry tremendously hard.

“I’ve not disagreed with much at all with the way the government has handled the virus until now, but this really threatens to kill the trade. Our drinks provide us with 66 per cent of our turnover.

“I am concerned not much will change when they review it on December 17.”

Giles Darby, who owns the Three Tuns and the Two Brewers in Chepstow, has been hit particularly hard by the impact of the England lockdown and a lack of visitors, and says the latest restrictions are another blow.

South Wales Argus:

“If alcohol is the issue, then why can people buy it in the supermarket and take it home? Are we pretending people aren’t having parties?” he said.

“My pubs are safe and regulated places where every measure has been taken to prevent transmission, yet we’re being punished and people can go elsewhere to buy their alcohol.

“I will stay open. I believe my pubs are community assets and need to remain open, especially at Christmas. We won’t make any money now, but we can provide a space for people to socialise.

“I was shocked when I heard about it. We’d been preparing for a change, but not this.”

William Griffiths, who owns the Angel Hotel (below) and the Walnut Tree Inn in and near Abergavenny, has decided to close the former for the duration of the restrictions.

South Wales Argus:

"For the past week we have been decking the halls, putting up Christmas trees - our biggest ever outside the front of the hotel - hanging wreaths, feeding our Christmas cakes and mixing huge tubs of mincemeat. Our menus were all planned and cocktail lists written for our most favourite time of the year," he said.

"However, following the announcement, it is not possible for us to operate. It is simply not viable for us to open the business partially and with a limited offer, due to the complexity and scale of our operation."