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Covid: What do pub-goers think of Wales' alcohol ban?

By Nicholas Bourne
BBC News

image captionDave Ackerman (left) and Colin Griffiths questioned whether pubs could afford to stay open

"It does not seem to make sense," said one customer enjoying a drink at the Gold Cape pub.

Retired Dave Ackerman was chatting with a friend over coffee a day after it was confirmed Wales' pubs and restaurants will have to stop serving alcohol on their premises from Friday and have to close after 18:00 GMT.

Friend Colin Griffiths, a part-time taxi driver, doesn't think it will be viable to keep bars open if they don't sell food.

But at a nearby table, two more customers believe stopping alcohol sales on the premises, and shutting early, could help reduce the spread of Covid-19, as "everyone mixes when they have had a few drinks".

Their comments come after First Minister Mark Drakeford said the new rules would tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.

Mr Ackerman, from Northop, near Mold, said: "Are they doing this because of Christmas parties in pubs? It does not seem to make sense."

He thinks more people are at risk of catching coronavirus in other public places with high footfall, like supermarkets, and said pubs have become quieter during the pandemic.

"A lot of the older ones have been staying away. Maybe they don't think it's safe. But you are more likely to catch something in the supermarket," he added.

image captionThe pub has introduced a one-way entrance system among its Covid-19 safety measures

Mr Griffiths, from rural Graianrhyd, in Denbighshire, said: "There are a few pubs in Mold that don't sell food. It won't be viable to keep it open."

He was concerned there could be a "free-for-all over Christmas" with people mixing at home amid UK-wide rules over the festive period which allow up to three households to meet.

"I can see another lockdown. We will be back to this situation in January," he said.

Before lunch time, the tables looked busy with customers - fewer than four to a table to comply with regulations - using disposable menus and some seated between safety screens - at the bar run by JD Wetherspoon.

The Gold Cape takes its name from a Bronze Age artefact unearthed in the town more than 180 years ago by quarrymen.

image captionEileen Dulson (left) and Brenda Milner agree with the alcohol rules, if it helps to cut Covid-19 cases

Brenda Milner, from Rossett, near Wrexham, who has relatives working in the health service, said she supported the new rules: "If you want this virus to go you would give everything up.

"Everyone gets mixing when they have had a few drinks."

Friend Eileen Dulson, from Wrexham, agreed: "I want them to get the numbers dying in the hospital down. It's frightening."

Her husband Ron said: "I don't think everybody understands the rules. Wales is different from England. It would make it more understandable if the same rules apply."

image captionShoppers queue outside a newsagent on Mold High Street on Tuesday morning

Sitting beneath the pub's wall-mounted big screen TV, David Maher, 48, from Mold, called the alcohol rules a "nightmare" for drinkers who want to sit in.

He and partner Jane Parker, 50, questioned whether there should be regional differences in Covid rules according to the number of cases in an area, similar to the tier system over the border.

"Everyone has been careful in Mold. Every shop I have been in there are people in masks," he said.

The couple agreed the pub was a "safe" place to socialise and staff had been "brilliant" providing table service to customers.

"Sometimes you just want to get out of the house," said Ms Parker.

image captionFrom left: Students Megan Hughes, Ella Dokk-Olsen and Amelia Cole-Jones

Mold student Ella Dokk-Olsen, 16, questioned the reason behind the 18:00 closing time, saying "coronavirus doesn't know the time".

She is concerned about people's mental health, saying closing bars reduced people's ability to socialise in a safe place.

Fellow sixth former Amelia Cole-Jones, also 16, said closing at 18:00 could "drive people into houses" to mix.

"In a pub the environment is safer, especially over Christmas when people want to meet up," she said.

Fellow student Megan Hughes, 16, said pubs were an important meeting place for people: "For some people it is the only time they come out of the house."

Related Topics

  • Coronavirus lockdown measures
  • Wales economy
  • Pubs
  • Mold

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