Maidenhead to 'lose pubs' due to early COVID closing times

From today (Thursday), bars, pubs and restaurants across England must shut their doors at 10pm due to new COVID-19 restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on Tuesday.

According to Mark Newcombe, chairman of the management committee of the Craufurd Arms in Gringer Hill, the move could put some of Maidenhead’s favourite drinking establishments out of business.

Speaking to the Advertiser on Tuesday, he said: “I’m in touch with a lot of landlords; there are a lot of people that are going to lose their livelihoods.

“Already many pubs are struggling financially, they are in a serious amount of debt, the last thing they need is another shutdown.

“People are going to lose their livelihoods and we are going to lose pubs.”

The early closure of eating and drinking establishments is one of a raft of measures announced by Boris Johnson on Tuesday designed to slow the spread of coronavirus as cases continue to rise around the UK.

Establishments must operate table service only – something the Craufurd has done since it reopened following lockdown – and all patrons and staff must wear face coverings unless when sat down to eat or drink.

Any business caught breaking the rules will be fined or potentially shut down.

The Craufurd is also the first pub in the country to have a UV air sanitisation system installed inside. Acting like an air conditioner, the unit destroys 99 per cent of viruses and bacteria in the air, making the pub even safer.

“I have no problem shutting at 10pm if that’s what the scientists are saying,” said Mark. “But I haven’t seen any evidence backing it up.

“We are far safer than a house because we have safety measures. It just moves the problem down the road.”

The Baldwin Air-Q1000 Sanitization System installed at the Craufurd Arms. 

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said: “We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor to those who urge a permanent lockdown.

“We are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.”

Some of the other measures announced by the Prime Minister will affect other shops in Maidenhead. Staff in all shops must now wear a face mask at all times.

Deborah Jones, director of Craft Coop, said that while the new measures will not affect her team much, she hopes customers won’t be put off visiting the shop.

She said: “All of our staff have been wearing masks from the beginning, just for the protection of customers and the staff who work in the shop.

“Our footfall has gone down a bit in September but that could be because of the weather or people concentrating on getting their kids back to school.

“We’re hoping people will start to think about us and how they can celebrate Christmas in a really special way."

A Royal Borough spokeswoman said: “Everyone has a role to play in managing the infection rate. While we continue to monitor the data, we need everyone to play their part - keep two metres apart as much as possible, wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds or more, and wear a face covering in public indoor settings or where social distancing is difficult.

“Our figures are currently similar to the South East and national average but, as we know from other areas of the country, that can change very quickly and we don’t want to be put in a position where further restrictions are needed.

“As a Local Authority, we have a COVID-19 outbreak management plan for the borough. The plan details what needs to happen to protect the public's health by minimising further spread or the re-occurrence of COVID-19 across the borough, a copy can be found online here www.rbwm.gov.uk/home/council-and-democracy/contact-us/coronavirus-information-and-support/covid19-outbreak-control-plan.

“If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you must get a test. If you don’t have symptoms, don’t get a test. We all need to play our part to protect the NHS Test and Trace service for those who really need it. If you have any coronavirus symptoms you must isolate immediately for 10 days (don’t wait for a test or a test result before doing so).”

To contact Mr Newcombe about the the Air-Q1000 Sanitization System email mark@craufurdarms.com  

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