When lockdown ends on December 2, patrons of Stroud’s hospitality venues can only drink alcohol with a substantial meal and may only sit indoors with their household or outdoors with up to six people from different households.
Restrictions will be reviewed fortnightly, but publicans have voiced concerns about rising costs and business planning difficulties.
“We were all getting ready for Christmas and then suddenly you get this kick in the balls again,” said Ian Morrison, owner of The Retreat, on Church Street.
He said it cost the business more than £3,500 to put Covid-safe measures in place and now he will have to spend more money making a dinner menu.
“For me it would be cheaper to close because the staff would be on furlough but then the community in Stroud wouldn’t have The Retreat,” he added.
Christmas sales traditionally support many pubs in Gloucestershire through the quieter months of the new year, but some owners think the new restrictions will drive customers away.
One of them is Miles Connolly, proprietor of the Prince Albert, who said: “If it continues for more than a month, it will be the demise of many many pubs around the country.”
He added that regulars do not want to buy a pizza every time they want a drink.
Government guidelines do not specify the nature of a “substantial meal” nor how long a customer could drink alcohol for after finishing one.
Café owners, who will be hit less hard by the restrictions than wet-led pubs, seem to think they can weather the storm.
Tina Bowden, owner of the Lavender Bakehouse, said: “I think the R rate is increasing so it’s only sensible to try and be as safe as possible.
“I do have quite a lot of older customers, so I think it’s really important that we look after them and get through the hard times ready for the good times in Easter.”
Under a draft NHS plan, Covid-19 vaccinations will be rolled out across the country by April, 2021.
Nicholas Allen, who has run Star Anise for 15 years, said: “I understand that the authorities are juggling a near-impossible-to-please situation and so I would say I’m relieved that we’re not in the same tier as Bristol.
“I’m relieved that we can open up and have my customers sit in the warm given how flipping freezing it is outside.”