A LANDLORD has claimed reopening his pub next week in line with the latest Covid restrictions is not “financially viable” due to limited outdoor space.

The Victoria Inn, in Colchester, has both a courtyard and a barn area.

However, the barn area does not qualify under the Government’s latest coronavirus restrictions as an outdoor dining area which can be used from Monday.

Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced non-essential shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen across England from Monday.

But under social distancing measures, the Victoria Inn’s courtyard only has the capacity for a maximum of 16 customers.

Andrew Pilgrim, the landlord, said he would need a minimum of three staff working at a time to ensure Covid rules are adhered to - but this is not viable.


Uncertain times - Andrew Pilgrim and his wife Sheena Valentine

He said: “This would not be financially viable as we would end up spending more money than we would be able to make.

“Essentially, we would make more money being closed than opening next week.

“We have to think about every single penny at the moment.”

The pub has six members of staff using the Government’s furlough scheme and it is run by Andrew and his wife Sheena Valentine.

Mr Pilgrim said it was “pot luck” that some pubs around Colchester have beer gardens large enough to reopen.

“It’s not my fault some pubs have large beer gardens, and it’s not my fault my pub has a small courtyard,” he added.

The Government will be reviewing the national Covid figures in the coming weeks.

“The Government will be able to see what has happened to the figures since beer gardens and other businesses have reopened to see if there are any problems,” Mr Pilgrim added.

If the roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan, hospitality venues will be able to seat customers indoors on May 17.

My Pilgrim added: “The hospitality industry has been hit so hard - my concern is how the Covid figures will be interpreted by the Government if they increase within the next month.”

He added: “If your local pub is opening next week, treasure it as pubs need customers to keep running.”

Another north Essex pub which is unable to open next week is Ye Olde Albion, in Rowhedge.

The venue said opening is not feasible as it also has very limited space outside for customers.


Opening - David Brady and his daughter outside their pub 

However, some pubs have been able to adapt to serve the majority of their punters outdoors.

Last June, David Brady, landlord of The Alma, in Copford, put benches in the parking spaces outside the pub.

Mr Brady said: “We are looking forward to opening Monday and have room for 140 people.”