OWNERS of pub chains in Wales have reacted in unison to criticise the Welsh Government’s plans to ban sales of alcohol in pubs from Friday.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be banned from selling alcohol at least until a review on December 17, and will be unable to open to customers beyond 6pm.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the new restrictions will help tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.

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

Many involved in the pubs and bars industry have spoken publicly about the challenges they will now face - with a significant number of them saying they will close from Friday because it will be impossible to cover costs.

Brains chief executive Alistair Darby (below) said it is a “huge slap in the face” after he said his pubs had done everything possible to keep people safe.

He announced that all directly managed Brains pubs in Wales will be closing on Friday at 6pm until further notice.

South Wales Argus:

“850,000 people have come through our doors since the start of the pandemic - seven staff members have tested positive in that time, and test and trace have contacted us five times,” he said.

“I won’t question the science behind the government decision, but it seems to me we’ve shown what we’ve done has worked.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to make sure people are as safe as possible in our pubs, and people have been safe. Our findings show that.

“The scarring effect this will have on the economy will be brutal and long drawn out. We have already been operating at a 40 per cent deficit compared to 2019.


“We’re a business that is well run, looks after its workers, pays its taxes and contributes a lot to the economy to support the NHS.

“I’m aware there has to be a balance. But it’s imperative we don’t crush our economy in the process. I think this time that balance has not been achieved.”

John Bassett (below), who owns The Carpenters Arms and the Pen and Wig in Newport, both of which will also be closed, said: “Are they going to say we can open for Christmas after this? I’d be surprised.

South Wales Argus:

“I’m resigned to an awful period financially - my only focus now is to try and keep all 60 of my staff. I haven’t laid any of my staff off yet, and don’t intend to, but this is really becoming testing for us now.

“Yet again, we received hardly any notice before this comes into effect. I would question how the whole industry has been treated throughout this period.

“Mark Drakeford says he talks to stakeholders - yet I know nobody who has ever had a conversation with a representative of the Welsh Government on this issue.”

William Griffiths, who runs The Walnut Tree and the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny, confirmed - after spending much time decorating for Christmas - he is unlikely to reopen until January 20.

South Wales Argus:

Health minister Vaughan Gething

“Our menus were all planned and cocktail lists written for our most favourite time of the year," he said.

"However, it is simply not feasible for us to open the business partially or with a limited offer.

“We are responsible for over 70 members of staff and need to ensure the longevity of the business and that our team are financially supported.

"Whatever is announced (after the review) wouldn't come into effect for a few days and would certainly not provide enough time for us to arrange menus, supplier orders, staff and bookings, in order to successfully reopen this year."