Restrictions no barrier for pubs ahead of England's Euro 2020 kick off

Pubs across the region have been working to get ready for a month of football as the delayed European Championships finally begin.

Manager Wayne Etheridge said the pub was working at a third of its capacity, but was still ready for the tournament
Manager Wayne Etheridge said the pub was working at a third of its capacity, but was still ready for the tournament

With coronavirus restrictions still in place, pubs have had to spend time adapting their premises to ensure the rules around social distancing and safety are followed.

Bar Sport in Cannock and Britannia Sports Bar in Wollaston are two bars which, in a normal year, would be packed to the rafters with fans during major tournaments.

For Bar Sport owner Scott Murray and Britannia manager Wayne Etheridge, the tournament will feel very different in terms of patrons and how they can serve people.

Mr Etheridge said: "At the last World Cup in 2018, we were probably catering for around 1,200 people, particularly around England games, with the quarterfinal against Sweden seeing even more than that.

"This year, with only people seated being allowed, we can welcome in 400 people, so we've reduced our intake by two thirds.

"On top of that, our staffing levels have gone through the roof because everyone in the bar is seated and requires table service, and the track and track for 400 people isn't a five minute job.

"For the England game on Sunday, we're opening a lot earlier and expect to be at capacity just after midday."

Becky Doherty from Bar Sport in Cannock is one of many staff getting ready for the European Championships

Mr Murray said: "We'll be at 50 per cent capacity to what we're usually at, which is the biggest issue, and we're having to ensure we do table service.

"Normally, we'd have a packed crowd and people would be standing at the bar and cheering and jumping up and down, whereas this year, they can't do that as they've got to remain seated.

"The biggest thing for us is the 50 per cent capacity and while I'm grateful that we can open, it's going to be a huge loss for us as we'll be 50 percent down on what we usually make.

"We also can't serve as many people as we'd like and we also can't get enough bar staff at the moment to serve them, so it's a bit of a challenge."

While the two venues will not be able to cater for the numbers they usually would during a tournament, both men have worked to ensure their venues can still safely serve those customers who come through their doors.

Mr Murray said: "We've put more tables in our venue and we've now got a huge outdoor garden area now, which was a car park until we had it converted, with a licensed bar which can cater for 200 people.

Staff member Vicky Smith looks forward to the games with a cut-out of England manager Gareth Southgate

"We also have our premier suites, which were table service before all this and which will have talks from former players, so we can still offer our usual services, just at reduced capacity.

"We have a reservation system and we already have everywhere in the bar and garden reserved for the England game against Croatia."

Mr Etheridge said: "We've tried to make it more of a festival of football, so we have a barbecue and an outside bar in the car park and flags and banners everywhere.

"We're at an advantage as I can't think of any other pub in the area which can cater for 400 people, so our table service will work as hard as it can and we aim to amplify the commentary as well."

Despite the limitations in terms of numbers and how they can be served, both men said they were looking forward to the next month of football.

The outside area of Britannia Sports Bar in Wollaston has been decorated ahead of Euro 2020

Mr Etheridge said: "I do think it's going to be a great month of football and our phone hasn't stopped ringing with people enquiring about tables and times, so I'm excited."

Mr Murray said: "It's been such a long time coming and everyone has been getting more and more excited about the tournament, so I'm looking forward to a good month."

Britannia Sports Bar and Bar Sport are just a couple of the pubs which will be showing games throughout the tournament.

Other pubs include the Lawnswood in Stourbridge, The Registry in Walsall, The Goose in the city, Royal London, Hogshead and George Wallis in Wolverhampton and the Red Lion and the Lancaster in Wolverhampton.

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