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Struggling pubs need us all to become regulars again, not novelty visitors

PUBLISHED: 06:34 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 06:34 09 July 2020

Landlady Rita McCluskey serving drinks from the doorway of the re-opened Adam & Eve in Norwich. We've got to support our pubs more than ever, says Rachel Moore

Landlady Rita McCluskey serving drinks from the doorway of the re-opened Adam & Eve in Norwich. We've got to support our pubs more than ever, says Rachel Moore

Archant

Don’t go back to the pub just to see what it’s like in the new world, support your local or it may banish, says Rachel Moore

‘Life has to go on.”
“The world is turning and we have to jump on again.”

Just a couple of the stock answers punted out to people who were genuinely shocked, and a few a bit cross, that I went to the pub at the weekend.

A lovely early evening under the low beams in a listed 17th century pub, with parts dating back to 1200AD, would have been a heavenly way to while away time four months ago.

But some have reacted like I walked unprotected into a tiger’s cage. Brave, reckless, stupid and desperate are just a few descriptions.

It’s our ‘local’. It does great tapas, loves our dog and welcomes customers as publicans should , with warmth and respect.

And it needs custom. Desperately. Like all 60,000 of the UK pubs

Why would I not want to spend money there to support its survival, meet friends and start restructuring our lives to get out and about responsibly and carefully?

I can’t – and won’t – live in fear anymore. Life is about living and enjoying it, and making life work around Covid-19 worries, not cowering from it. We’ve done enough of that.

But not everybody is so sure, and that’s their right, but judging people who do isn’t going to help get the country, and the economy, going again.

Walking to the pub had nothing to do with alcohol, desperation or recklessness. It was about normality and supporting a business that might not see 2021.

Sat at a sanitised table, away from others with table service felt hopeful for the future.

It was my first visit anywhere other than the office and supermarket since March, before venturing into city centre shops or the hairdresser.

It wasn’t like New Year’s Eve – or Super Saturday. It felt like easing into a new life.

It was a comfortable enjoyable three-plus hours with friends quietly marking four missed birthday celebrations with a meal and a few drinks. Yet an Ipsos Mori poll found that six out of 10 people would feel uncomfortable returning to a pub or restaurant.

But they need our custom – our help. My fear is that there will be novelty value for the next few weeks and then trade will dwindle because people fear restrictions will curtail enjoyment. It doesn’t, it’s just different. Autumn and winter is going to be really tough times for the future of the British pub.

We have to save them. They offer so much more than a bar full of drinks - company for the isolated, busy hubs for villages, quizzes to get people out and together, sports teams and one in four Britons will now meet their future wife or husband in a pub

They have been the focus of community life here since Roman pubs – tabernae – were here in 43AD selling wine.

They need our support. We cannot shut away anymore.

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There has been enough devastation. Every day, my LinkedIn feed shows more people changing their work status to “looking for new opportunities” after their roles have been made redundant, more businesses are closing and going into administration.

Yes, three pubs had to close after the weekend when customers reported testing positive. But that’s the system.

They were open again after they were tested negative, a deep clean and customers contacted.

But the more we open up and get used to the new rules, the more confident people will be. It’s about taking that first step.

It is vital that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines., and don’t lean over or stand on your shoulder.

But if we all view being out and about as a privilege and respect each other’s space, we will prevent the virus running out of control and get on with living our lives and saving businesses.

We cannot do that hiding behind closed doors.

Amazing Kate: If TV presenter Kate Garraway can return to work full-time next week when her husband is still critically ill in hospital after contracting Covid early on, we should all be back to business as usual.

Derek Draper, her husband for 15 years, might never recover and has been so sick that his family have been told they were losing him six times.

But on Monday she will be back on Good Morning Britain on the advice of doctors who tell her she has to get normality back into her and her two children’s lives.

His recovery could take years and the 53-year-old needs to get back to work for normality, and to provide for her children, she said.

“The doctors have been urging me not to put my life on pause. They’ve told me that I need to go back to work and create a routine in our lives again,” she said.

So many questions: A few weeks ago, I warned about so many needless cancer deaths were ahead because of treatment halts amid Covid-19

Panorama on Monday stated a horrifying extra 35,000 people could die from cancer because of the pandemic, which has killed nearly 45,000 people so far.

Two million screening tests for breast, bowel and cervical cancer have been missed and urgent cancer referrals have plummeted 60 per cent.

Treatment has been halted.

All avoidable and premature deaths of people who would have had more time left or been cured if services had continued through the Covid crisis.

So many questions need answering.


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