Lockdown: Welsh pub with car park in England unable to fully reopen

Ian Morris

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Ian Morris

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Ian Morris said the closure of The Old Hand and Diamond Inn had been “very financially challenging”

A publican who has the England-Wales border running “through the car park” says it is frustrating being unable to reopen when nearby businesses can.

Pubs in England can reopen on Saturday while pubs in Wales remain shut because of differences in lockdown easing.

Ian Morris, of The Old Hand and Diamond, in Coedway, on the Powys/Shropshire border, said people would drive past to pubs that are open.

Mr Morris said the closure had been “very financially challenging”.

“It has been a complete shutdown for us,” he said.

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The Old Hand and Diamond Inn

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Mr Morris said the English border “comes through the car park” of The Old Hand and Diamond Inn

Pubs in Wales can open outdoors from 13 July. But Mr Morris said not knowing when they would be able to reopen indoors was “very frustrating” and reopening under social distancing rules would mean less income but the same outgoings.

He said the move was a “token gesture” by the Welsh government.

“We will be losing two-thirds of our customers but we have still got to run a business,” he said.

“It is going to be very difficult times ahead, I don’t think people understand.

“Everyone thinks it is going to be great, but it will not be the same experience.”

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Mark Jones

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Mark and Chelly Jones said the decision is driving business elsewhere

Mark and Chelly Jones have run the Stanton House Inn, in Chirk, Denbighshire, for 19 years.

During the lockdown they have been providing takeaways and doing improvement works at the pub, but said it was only making enough to keep the business “ticking over”.

“There is a pub just across border, a 10-minute walk, and they will be opening,” Mrs Jones said.

The couple said they had heard of groups that were planning to travel into England on reopening night.

“It is encouraging people out of the village,” Mr Jones said.

“If they opened us all at the same time, it would have kept locals local, rather than going off into strange towns and mixing with strangers.”

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Stanton House is in Chirk, Denbighshire, close to the border with Shropshire

Just across the border in England, landlord Bob Hedley is expecting plenty of his Welsh regulars when the Bradford Arms Hotel in Llanymynech, on the Shropshire/Powys border, reopens on Saturday.

The boundary between the countries runs through the village and about four feet from the wall of the hotel.

“Lots of my regulars all live in the Welsh side of the village and they have all been on Facebook asking when we do reopen,” Mr Hedley said.

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Bradford Arms Hotel

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Bob Hedley said he had lost tourist trade because of the lockdown

While guests have been staying at the hotel during lockdown, Mr Hedley estimates they have still lost up to £30,000 in B&B business alone.

“It has been a massive hit, we have not seen any of the tourists this season who come to walk Offa’s Dyke path and stay with us,” he said.

“I do sympathise with pub owners in Wales, it is a bit silly, but this is devolution. I am not expecting a massive amount on Saturday but I hope it picks up as the summer goes on.”

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Bradford Arms Hotel

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