Pub's business still not back to pre-Covid levels

A landlord of a pub near Wolverhampton says the business is still not back to pre-coronavirus levels of trade despite restrictions ending.

Neil Harper from The Fox Inn, Shipley, reflects on the past year with Covid-19.
Neil Harper from The Fox Inn, Shipley, reflects on the past year with Covid-19.

Neil Taylor, landlord of The Fox at Shipley, said it had been difficult as the business navigated through the uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

He spoke on Hospitality Action Day, set up by the industry to highlight the challenges it faces and to encourage people to get out and use their pubs, cafes and restaurants.

The Fox closed its doors on March 20 – three days before the first national lockdown was imposed – alongside other business across the country.

Mr Taylor was later admitted to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after catching the virus and said he was at "death's door" as he fought for his life.

Now, after recovering from Covid-19, the landlord has said he wished there had been more support for the business from local authorities.

And although some pubs and restaurants were open for takeaway, the location of The Fox being "in the middle of the countryside" made things difficult.

We tried takeaways but it wasn't financially viable," Mr Taylor said, before adding the Government's Eat Out To Help Out scheme did help them out.

But it wasn't long before the hospitality sector was forced to close again and when restrictions began to ease in April this year, the pub was hit with another problem.

A gazebo had been set up outside the pub – allowing people to drink outside – but they were left "exposed to the elements" with the onset of bad weather.

Overall, the Bridgnorth Road-based business furloughed 22 staff and has since gone "above and beyond" to make sure people feel safe with a string of measures put in place.

"There was nothing we could've done any different," the landlord said, as he explained the business had not fully recovered from the virus but was "getting there".

And Mr Taylor said Hospitality Action Day was a way for the industry to remind people its importance. It has been organised by the charity Hospitality Action, which offers financial help as well as advice and welfare to business owners and their staff.

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