Pub landlords in Scotland and Wales look set to have their New Year’s Eve profits “killed” as punters plan to pour into England for celebrations free of restrictions.
Thousands of people are expected to escape to England on Friday night to avoid coronavirus restrictions imposed by First Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
Chelly Jones, who runs the Stanton House Inn in Chirk, Wrexham, with her husband, said she has cancelled the live entertainment they had planned for New Year’s Eve because of the new rules.
Mrs Jones, whose pub is less than half a mile from the Wales/England border, told the PA news agency: “Christmas has been a disaster, we’ve never had a year like it.
“The week before Christmas, the new restrictions in Wales killed our profits. They kept us open, but shut us really. We’re a family-run pub so it’s very difficult at the moment.”
“It’s most definitely because of the different restrictions in England than in Wales,” she added.
“There’s a pub just across from us who are able to do whatever they want on New Year’s Eve. If people want to go party they only have to walk a mile up the road.”
Mrs Jones said people in Wales feel they are “fighting a losing battle” because punters crossing the border for celebrations could return with coronavirus, negating the efforts of people following restrictions.
Meanwhile, pubs in England are preparing for a potential flood of customers.
Justin Realff, landlord of the Grosvenor Arms in Aldford, near Chester, which is half a mile away from the Welsh border, said numbers may have to be restricted on New Year’s Eve if too many people turn up.
He told PA: “We will have to be careful because we don’t want to get too packed, we’ll make sure we’ve got lots of air going through, but it will be good for business.
“We’re making sure there’s enough space and making sure people come through one entrance and we might have to restrict numbers at some point.”
Asked whether he expects people will queue outside, he said “possibly”.
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, has urged people not to cross the border to take advantage of looser Covid-19 restrictions in England.
Mr Swinney accepted that, while it is legally permitted for people to travel to England to take part in celebrations there, this would not be in “the spirit of the rules we are putting forward”.
Nightclubs in Scotland and Wales are currently not allowed to open, and the rule of six is in place for pubs and restaurants in Wales.
In Scottish pubs, a one-metre distance must be maintained between tables, groups of people meeting will be limited to three households, and alcohol must be served at the table.