Wales news: Pubs labelled Covid ‘punch bags’ as locals plan New Year across border | City & Business | Finance

As well as mandatory closing of nightclubs, venues such as pubs, restaurants and cinemas now have limits on people only meeting in groups of six along with two metre social distancing and maximum limits of 30 people inside. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Nick Newman, chair of Cardiff Licensees Forum, said colleagues had previously reported people travelling to England last time restrictions were out of sync. He said there were already anecdotal reports of this happening now and wouldn’t be surprised if people in areas such as Newport and the South Wales Valleys travel to Bristol or further for New Years Eve. Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “The Industry has warned devolved Governments that the closure of the late night economy could result in an escalation in house parties and illegal events given the restrictions last year and the need for people to celebrate NYE this year, following the restrictions last year.

“It has come as no surprise to hear that people are planning to travel across borders on NYE to access more favourable restrictions in England, although given the options and public health considerations, we would rather people enjoy their NYE in regulated settings with mitigations in place to protect patrons and staff.”

Mark Finaly, operations manager for the Fat Boar Group in Wrexham, told the BBC: “New Years will be the real test.

“There’s been a couple of comments from customers who say they will come here for a meal and then make their way to Chester to celebrate properly – in their words.

“So the new year countdown will be more sedate

The Christmas and New Year period is a key trading window for hospitality meaning the timing of of the new restrictions has fallen particularly hard on a sector already struggling.

Trade body UKHospitality Cymru branded the restrictions “devastating” noting that hundreds of millions of pounds of business had already been lost due to quiet trading in the run up to Christmas.

Indeed, many businesses have already left the market.

Mr Newman explained: “Cardiff Licensees Forum had around 100 businesses going into the pandemic, we’re now down to the low 90s.”

Accusing the Welsh Government of making the industry its “go to punch bag”, he warned staff didn’t know if they would be working in January or not.

Under the rules, nightclubs have been forced to close which Mr Newman said “feels like young people are being abandoned.”

He also pointed out that nightclubs had only recently been given the requirement to use Covid passes meaning there hadn’t been a chance to see what impact this could make.

Even for businesses that are able to remain open, restrictions on numbers and social distancing have reduced operating capacity and also knocked customer confidence.

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Mr Newman described the measures as “making a link (to hospitality) with the virus in peoples’ minds.”

The Welsh Government has warned that the spread of Omicron could have “knock-on impacts on public services and the economy because of staff absences” and that it could “also cause a surge in hospitalisations at a time when the NHS is already at its busiest, and we could sadly see more deaths.”

A spokesperson added: “Last week we announced £120m of extra emergency financial support for Welsh businesses impacted by the rapid spread of omicron.

“We fully appreciate these are very difficult times for our hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses and are considering whether additional emergency funding is needed in the new year.”



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