Merry Christmas all! And that is with genuine sentiment, as opposed to sarcasm (which when you read the remainder of this post you would be forgiven for inferring!)
We've been a bit quieter than usual of late, both on social media and our blog. The reason being we have been doing a lot of number crunching, head scratching and soul searching. And, with brows furrowed, we have reached the conclusion that we cannot make January work under tier two regulations. We're also worried about February, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it! So, we will be closing our doors and reverting to just offering takeaways from tomorrow (25 December) until (we expect) at least the end of January 2021
I wanted to reassure you this is not a long-term decision. We absolutely will be back! This is a choice we are making based purely on the figures from December, applied to what we know our takings might normally be in January and knowing that with a 70% drop (which the tier two regulations result in), we will be on the cusp of no longer breaking even. So, it makes more sense to cut costs, batten down the hatches and ride the storm than try and fight it. By doing this, we know we can come out the other side in a position whereby we can open again and get back to some normality in terms of trading. Without it, we can't easily predict where we'll end up.
This does mean we have had to cancel our New Year's Eve plans for 2020, which we have let all those who were booked in already know. With the new strain of the virus marching steadily across the country, it feels like the right thing to do to keep everyone safe and also means we are not having to re-stock just before the next tier review on the 29 December, which could see us placed in tiers three or four, where we'd have to close for New Year's Eve anyway - thus wasting all that stock.
I have to admit as well there is an element of us struggling with the tier two regulations and staying (relatively) sane! With no mixing of households allowed, a substantial meal required and all the other restrictions still very much in place, we have come to a point where we feel we are becoming nagging old curmudgeons and the atmosphere in the pub is suffering as a result. It's also become more apparent in recent weeks (following some hefty fines for local pubs) that the authorities see it as very much our responsibility to police our customer's behaviour and whilst, in the main, this has not been necessary, it goes against our sensibilities to be pulling people up whenever there's the smallest lapse in everyone trying to follow the myriad of rules.
Then of course there is the issue of safety. We desperately don't want any one of you to come to our pub and go away with this illness and it remains a possibility whenever we open and have a busy shift. So whilst we need those busy shifts to survive financially, we can't reconcile it with new and more transmissible strains of the virus prevalent. A true catch-22 scenario. When we do the takeaways, we're able to manage far more easily the safety aspects and you are able to spend a short amount of time collecting them in an allocated slot - easily distancing from others. They help us keep our heads above water in terms of income and we are also able to claim the small grant available operating at this level.
So - these are the reasons we have made this call for the coming weeks. As mentioned, we will cross February's probably treacherous rope bridge when we get there. As we all know the sands shift very quickly in this pandemic and we could be in an entirely different landscape by then, so not much point trying to predict that just yet. However, rest assured and speaking from experience from the previous two enforced lockdowns, we will be as desperate as you are to get back to being open and welcoming you through our doors again!
So, I will sign off with another opportunity wish to you all a safe, restful and, as happy as it can be in 2020, Christmas. Hopefully, like us, you're planning some quality time in your own way - as we all deserve that this year. We're joining with just one other local household to celebrate together, having decided early amongst our family that travelling to be together over the festive period was not worth the risk, when we've all stayed apart for the duration of the pandemic so far. However, we will of course boast, as we did on our respective birthdays both of which fell in the first lockdown, that we will be one of very few able to spend the whole of Christmas Day legitimately in the pub!
We will keep you posted throughout the next month on what our plans are - stay safe, look after each other and let's hope 2021 is altogether a more forgiving year, even if it starts not as we mean to go on!