Pubs need more clarity before reopening

pilot boat
Robin and Angela Collyns with son Ben pictured on the terrace at the Pilot Boat

PUBLICANS in the Lyme Regis area are considering how and when they may be able to reopen their premises with the easing of lockdown measures announced this week. But more clarity is needed before they return to business.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that some hospitality outlets will be able to operate again after July 1 but with social distancing being strictly observed.

This could well lead to pubs with outdoor amenities, such as beer gardens, being able to cater for a limited number of customers.

Licensed premises in Lyme, Uplyme and Charmouth with outdoor facilities include the Pilot Boat, Harbour Inn, Royal Standard, SWIM and Nag’s Head in Lyme, the Talbot Arms in Uplyme and The George at Charmouth. It may be more difficult for the smaller establishments, such as the Volunteer Inn and Ship Inn, to introduce acceptable social distancing.

The biggest pub and restaurant in Lyme Regis is the Pilot Boat Inn, owned by Palmers Brewery but run by the Collyns family. It has a large bar and restaurant and an outside terrace with around 180 covers in total.

Robin Collyns, who runs the business with his wife Angela and son Ben, says they will try to open as soon as possible but they need more clarity from the government on what they can and can’t do.

He told LymeOnline: “We are in a strong position to reopen with social distancing being observed. It would mean taking out half the tables and not serving drinks from the bar. People will enter the bar through the front door and leave via the terraced area.

“The most important factor is that we can provide a very safe environment for our staff and customers and we look forward to welcoming them back to the Pilot Boat.”

Mr Collyns added that his business had received no funding but was receiving excellent support from Palmers Brewery. But he warned that the reduced operation could have a great impact on the profitability of the business, adding that it could be Easter 2021 before normal trading conditions returned.

The Pilot Boat is trialling a pizza takeaway service between 12noon and 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Mother and son team Sue Steward and Mark Oldfield who own The Harbour Inn at the Cobb are also considering opening as soon as is possible.

They are looking at the viability of reducing the number of restaurant tables and limiting diners to a specific time slot as well as making full use of their veranda and outside seating area with social distancing being observed at all times.

Becky O’Donnell, who owns the popular free-house Volunteer Inn in Broad Street, a pub that trades heavily on its friendly atmosphere, believes it will be difficult for compact pubs like her own to adhere to the social distancing regulations. But she is hoping they can find a way to start trading as soon as possible.

The Volly already operates of pub grub takeaway service between 5pm and 8.30pm on a Friday and Saturday which is proving extremely popular.

Also being well supported is he take-away service are the Talbot Arms in Uplyme and they are planning a special hog roast bap night planned for Wednesday, May 20 in additional to their weekly menu.

Several other restaurants in the area are also running takeaway services.

The new-look Rock Point Inn, which has just undergone major refurbishment having been bought by St Austell Brewery, was due to open in April but an update has not yet been given on when the business will start trading.

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About Philip Evans 715 Articles
Veteran journalist and newspaper manager Philip Evans has worked in the publishing industry for more than half a century. He started out as a reporter for Pulman’s Weekly News as a young man and went on to work for an international publishing company in the UK, South Africa and Australia before returning to Lyme Regis where he is still reporting on local events as he has done for more than 53 years.

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