Landlord says isolated regulars will miss pub spirit as Tier Two regulations announced for Northampton

Paul Earmaker of the Gardeners Arms thinks it is likely drinking-only pubs will stay closed in Northampton until January
The Gardener's Arms landlord Paul Earwaker opened his pub on Wellingborough Road at 11am back in July. (File picture by Kirsty Edmonds).The Gardener's Arms landlord Paul Earwaker opened his pub on Wellingborough Road at 11am back in July. (File picture by Kirsty Edmonds).
The Gardener's Arms landlord Paul Earwaker opened his pub on Wellingborough Road at 11am back in July. (File picture by Kirsty Edmonds).

Northamptonshire will be in Tier Two under the Government's Covid Winter Plan, it was confirmed on November 26, sparking concern from one Northampton landlord for some of his isolated regulars.

Non-essential shops, hospitality and entertainment venues, gyms and personal care businesses such as hairdressers can all open again from Wednesday (December 2).

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However, Tier Two restrictions mean no household mixing indoors and the 'rule of six' applies outdoors. Pubs and restaurants can open but can only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.

Paul Earmaker, landlord at the Gardeners Arms, first reopened his watering hole in Northampton on July 4, with strict social distancing rules in place - including no customers standing at the bar.

After opening for almost four months, the second national lockdown forced pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector to close throughout November.

Now, from December 2, households will be banned from mixing indoors while pubs will be limited to operating as restaurants.

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Paul told the Chronicle & Echo that this will be an issue for the Gardeners Arms, on Wellingborough Road, because they do not have the right cooking equipment.

"We knew that we were going to fall into Tier Two," Paul said. "We are only a 'wet-led' pub, I don't know where we would stand if we had a menu on the table.

"We have no commercial kitchen so we could not cook and we can't use a domestic kitchen because there's too many regulations.

"It's been hard work, seven days a week trying to reduce costs to try and break even with the 10 o'clock curfew. It's been a long, hard slog.

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"The older generation have not been coming out as much because they are still isolating. But, on a good point, we have had people come in the pub who have not been in before, which has been positive."

Paul, who also runs a courier business, has been fortunate that he has had another form of employment to fall back on, which is not the case for most pub landlords, bar owners and restaurant bosses.

"I take my hat off to the company that own the pub because they have allowed us to stop paying rent," he added. "Hopefully we can cover our costs and open in January.

"I can't see them letting us open up before Christmas time for it all to go to pot again, it will be January, I'm sure, before we will open."

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In the meantime, some of the bar staff are tending to some of the regulars who cannot come into the pub and enjoy the same sense of community.

Paul added: "It's a lifestyle, it becomes part of your life.

"It's the isolation that's hard for some of the regulars who come in the pub and see their friends.

"We are a community pub and one of my barmaids makes sure some of the regulars are okay. Our heart goes out to the people who have not got any family."