‘Postcode lottery’ tier system unfair to pubs on wrong side of the road

The John Harvey Arms is at the centre of the community and the owners were looking forward to swinging open their doors at the end of lockdown.

But the pub is just inside Tier 3 in Bristol and will have to remain closed – even though the next nearest pub, just a few hundred metres away in Tier 2, can start serving drinks.

For landlady Sue Diaper it’s a massive setback. The pub has just been decked out for Christmas and she is losing thousands of pounds.

Image:
The John Harvey Arms pub is usually bustling this time of year

“To get Tier 3, I mean, we were expecting it, but still it’s a massive blow,” she said.

“They’re not going to review until 16 December. I’m absolutely furious about it, because if you’re going to do that on an area, it should be every pub or restaurant in that area – not by border lines or council lines. It’s not fair.”

When you drive around the edges of tiers, it does feel too much like a postcode lottery as to where your house ends up.

The geography of COVID-19 restrictions might make sense to the scientists, but if a boundary runs down your road and you are on the wrong side of the tracks, it can seem pretty arbitrary.

And even in places that aren’t on the border, but are close to Tier 2, it also fairly puzzling.

In Knowle West – which is inside Tier 3 in Bristol – infection rates are relatively low, but the draconian measures remain in place for everyone.

Image:
Landlady Sue Diaper shows Alex Rossi round the Bristol pub

People do understand the difficulties the government has in making the rules, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Many families here told us they were absolutely gutted they would not be able to be reunited with their loved ones at the end of lockdown.

They’re putting up decorations just a few miles away – into what will be Tier 2 – in Keynsham, but there’s not much enthusiasm here either.

Jim McCarthy’s pub doesn’t serve food, so he will remain closed, losing money at what should be the busiest time of the year. He could open to sell takeaway pints, but says it’s not worth his while when the local supermarkets sell booze so much cheaper.

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“You can go and get your nails done with a person stood right next to you, or in front of you, hair done, etc. but you cannot come and sit in a pub and have a beer.”

Tier 3 or Tier 2 – for many people, it’s just degrees of unhappiness.

The festive season may be upon us, but for most of the country, with tough restrictions in place until who knows when, there’s not much to cheer about.