The host of Manchester’s smallest pub claims that social distancing could kill his little drunkard in the city center.
Under current social distance rules, a two-meter space between customers would mean that only eight people could enter the Circus Tavern on Portland Street at a time.
And licensee Barry Hayes fears that the pub won’t survive if he also has to pay the rent while the pub is closed.
He asked the owner of Star Pubs for a nine-month rental break to allow time to recover once the blocking measures were lifted.
Star Pubs says it is providing rent reductions to pubs “on an individual basis” and is suspending the collection of any rent at least until June or every time the pubs reopen.
Barry says, “My rent is over £ 5,000 a month. If you can’t open how can you pay it?
“If I can’t sell beer, I can’t make money.
“We are one of the most iconic pubs in the city. Many places are in the same location.
“I think I will be able to involve about eight people, nine at most, if the rules of social distance remain the same.
“Each room is about three and a half meters.”
Government ministers have already warned that pubs, restaurants and bars are likely to be the last to reopen after the blockade.
Many in the hospitality sector are pressuring the government for a nine-month national “time out” on rent payments.
The Manchester hospitality network is urging people to follow their plans.
In a letter to the owners last week, the network said that “the social fabric of our country will never be the same” if these measures were not implemented.
Barry says times have been difficult for pubs even before the blockade, but the situation has jeopardized the future of many pools of water.
“At the end of the day, we’re just looking for help somewhere,” he says.
“I know two landowners who will go bankrupt and it’s simple.
“If they follow this two-meter rule, I will be absolutely hateful.
“I will work for nothing. My head is working overtime trying to figure out how we could make it work.
“I proposed to Star that maybe I could defer the rent payments until next year and start paying the rent again and add those payments to the end of my contract.”
Barry closed the pub doors on government orders in March and had two staff members drafted.
At the time he had just increased his stocks in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day.
“We had to get supplies for those usually busy days, but nobody was coming,” he says.
“So we have £ 8,000 of beer that is wasted now.
“At the moment I am also renovating at a great cost.
“My sister also works here, so it’s a family business.
“It took me a lot of things and I want to continue.”
Lawson Mountstevens, CEO of Star Pubs and Bars said: “We are and will continue to do everything we can to help our pubs.
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“In addition to government exemptions and grants to help cover rent, wages and other fixed costs, Star Pubs & Bar provides pub rental reductions on an individual basis and suspends any rent to be collected until at least June or every once the pubs reopen.
“Once the restrictions are lifted, we want to see all our pubs open, merchants and operating as soon as possible.
“We know the relief of rent, which represents a significant investment on behalf of Star Pubs and bars during difficult times for the whole industry and the support we provide on a pub-by-pub basis will have a significant impact on the future sustainability of our licensees” companies – and clearly we want to see our pubs thrive in the long run. “