'We need some normality back in our lives' - Sunderland publicans and restaurateurs' hopes ahead of Government announcement

City publicans are hoping to raise a glass to the future as the Government prepares to announce its roadmap for leading the country out of Lockdown.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 7:00 am
Licensed premises hopeful for the future

Other than the reopening of schools on March 8, which has been agreed across the top-level of government, the timescale of the other measures is yet to be confirmed.

The forthcoming announcement is not expected to say what date each step will be taken, as these will be determined by the number of cases and the R rate.

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Harry Collinson runs licensed premises The Looking Glass and Cafe 1851 in the city centre, as well as Pandora in The Bridges

However, unconfirmed reports say pubs and restaurants could reopen outdoors in England without the 10pm curfew from April, if coronavirus cases keep falling.

The hospitality sector has been dealt some of the strictest measures in the past year and, until stated otherwise, can still only open to serve takeaway food or alcohol for delivery.

Harry Collinson is looking forward to reopening the doors to his city centre businesses, but only when it’s safe to do so.

"As a business owner the past year will have been worth the sacrifice as long as we can reopen when it’s safe, instead of all the stopping and starting. I’d rather stay closed than open in uncertainty,” explained the businessman who is at the helm of The Looking Glass in Sunniside and Pandora in The Bridges.

The Looking Glass in Sunniside

As well as his established businesses, he is also in the process of renovating the former Cafe Farah into Cafe 1851, a new addition in the ongoing renaissance of Mackie’s Corner.

"The difference this time is the vaccine and the speed of the roll out, which gives us hope for reopening soon,” he said. “We’re a food and wet led venue so we’re hoping for at least Tier 2, if the tier system returns, so at least people can sit down. Our staff are champing at the bit too, they really want to bring some life and soul back to the businesses.

"It’s been a long winter Lockdown and we all need some normality back in our lives.”

The Stackyard in West Herrington is one of the pubs which has adapted to a food delivery model, which they run from Thursday to Sunday.

Cafe 1851 will open in Mackie's Corner

Publican Katrina Quinn is looking forward to the future, but hopes that the rules for reopening are workable.

"We are really hopeful for the announcement,” she said. “We know it won’t be set in stone for pubs, but as long as we have some guidelines that something positive is happening. And that when we can reopen, we stay open, it’s desperately needed for our industry.

"At least have rule of six and two households mixing, because anything else will be a disaster. The silly rules such as the 10pm curfew and one household were not practical, we’re publicans, not police officers and it was very difficult to enforce.”

Steve Lawson, who owns The Times Inn in Southwick, is also hopeful for a reopening similar to Tier 2, with table service.

The Stackyard in West Herrington

"It would be foolish to think we’ll be able to reopen straight away like before the pandemic, but the old Tier 2 would be a good compromise,” he said.

"I’m ever the optimist, but I think the announcement will focus on schools. I think the biggy for pubs will be when the Budget is announced a couple of weeks later.

"The Budget will be a big kick, but I think they’ll make a pubs announcement to soften the blow.”

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Steve Lawson at The Times Inn in Southwick