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Covid-19: 'Bleak future' as traders prepare for tier 3

By Tom Airey
BBC News

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image copyrightMike Hampshire
image captionMike Hampshire from Nomadic Beers says going back into lockdown is "super-frustrating"

As 2.3 million people prepare for tier three Covid restrictions in West Yorkshire, businesses in the region have described their "bleak" outlook.

Traders from all five of the county's local authority areas have told the BBC they are preparing for business to be halved overnight or being forced to close.

Under the tier three - very high alert - rules, there can also be no mixing of households indoors or outdoors, including in private gardens.

The rules begin from 00:01 GMT on Monday, with casinos, soft play, adult gaming centres, betting shops and car boot sales closing, as well as pubs and bars not serving substantial meals.

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Leeds

Nomadic Beers has been supplying cask beers to pubs in Leeds and beyond for the past three years, but lost all trade overnight when the pubs closed in March.

Mike Hampshire, who runs the brewery's taproom, was in a WhatsApp group messaging other local traders on Thursday when he realised a tier 3 announcement was imminent.

"We had cleaned down the brewery, sanitized everything, made sure the posters and the QR codes are up, set all the tables up two metres apart, it was a full day's work," he said.

"To do all of that only to find out we're going into lockdown is just super-frustrating."

image copyrightMike Hampshire
image captionDue to cask beer orders from local pubs decreasing over recent months, the brewery has been increasingly reliant on taproom sales

The taproom, which opened in July and can serve 42 people with social distancing, will be calling last orders on Saturday.

Business cashflow is expected to instantly fall by 40%.

"It feels like we're being targeted. If I walk into a supermarket the experience is not the same at all, there's loads of people milling around, some without masks, there's no track and trace," he said.

"They feel like an unsafe environment, but we're jumping through hoops to make ours safe and we're being forced to close."

Kirklees

An additional tier three rule for West Yorkshire is the banning of shared smoking equipment in hospitality venues, which is a concern for Share One shisha lounge in Huddersfield.

Baghtiar Shateri, the owner, said there was "no point operating" after the rules kick in.

"People come for the shisha, the other bits like teas and coffees just accompany the shisha, they don't come especially for them - there isn't a business there now," he said.

image copyrightShare One
image captionBaghtiar Shateri said his business often attracts people wanting to watch football or boxing on TV while smoking shisha

The rules state shisha venues can continue to operate without smoking equipment, but Mr Shateri feels he won't cover his overheads without the bar's main attraction.

He continued: "We'll still have bills to pay, electricity, rent, staff costs - everything that comes with day-to-day running."

Wakefield

New research recently shared by the BBC shows 10% of play centres in the UK have shut permanently since August, with Wakefield's Happy Days concerned it could have to follow suit.

The business, which has been open for eight years, spent £1,000 on signage, cleaning equipment and safety measures, but is closing once again from Monday.

Amber Cooke-Thomas, who runs the play centre, said: "We'd just got up and running, the public had just got confident in coming and obviously we're back to square one where we were in March.

"It's not making money, we're just losing money as it doesn't even cover the overheads - it's hard, really hard."

image copyrightHappy Days Play Centre
image captionHappy Days used to allow 76 children to use its soft play centre, but due to social distancing rules this has been reduced to 28

The government has promised a further financial package of more than £59.3m for the region, but the play centre feels it is "50-50" as to whether it will gain further support.

"This is our busiest time of the year now with the rain and the weather, and I'm grateful we've been open during half term, but the future looks very bleak," she said.

Bradford

Covid-19 rates in Bradford have continued to rise despite local lockdown measures introduced in July, but stricter tier three rules mean some businesses are having to transform themselves.

Daniel Horsman runs the independent Jacobs Well pub - one of the oldest in the city, From Monday it will become Bradford's newest pie house.

"We're not normally food focused, we're normally wet-led, so having a lot more food is presenting a lot of obstacles and staffing might have to change," he said.

image copyrightDaniel Horsman
image captionThe pub hopes its offering of pie and peas will fit the government criteria of a "substantial meal"

The pub said it was down about 20% when compared to pre-lockdown takings, with Mr Horsman's ambition of starting renovation work currently on hold.

He said: "It's going from running a pub to running a restaurant and I've got no experience of that. It's a very weird feeling and I'm not sure what's going to happen."

Calderdale

Harveys of Halifax has been a landmark for shoppers in the town for almost 100 years. In 2020, the department store has had to make the first redundancies in its history.

The new measures for tier three will not change how the business is run, but managing director Tracy Harvey is concerned it will cause another dent in consumer confidence.

"We are still seeing customers who are determined to still go out, particularly single and older people who have missed being able to come to us throughout the year," she said.

"It's still a small minority of people who would be coming in if things were normal; we're looking at about a 50% reduction in footfall."

image copyrightHarveys of Halifax
image captionTracy Harvey said the store had been video-calling customers and delivering to those people unable to visit in person

With people in West Yorkshire advised not to travel outside their local authority area, the store is concerned the additional restrictions will mean it misses important tourist trade in the run-up to Christmas.

She added: "We're just doing the best we can under the circumstances that we're under. We're learning to react very quickly, adapt as much as we can and just try to remain positive."

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  • Covid-19: West Yorkshire to go into tier 3 from Monday