Wet and windy weather forced many hospitality businesses to close over the bank holiday weekend, prompting calls for the reopening of indoor spaces in England.
Pubs and restaurants were left struggling to keep customers dry on what would normally have been one of the busiest trading days of the year.
Mark Wrigley, who co-owns Atlas bar in Manchester with his wife Elaine, spent over £120,000 on outdoor canopies before the pandemic but said he was unable to close the sides to keep rain out due to Covid restrictions.
He told The Caterer: "We'd bought umbrellas and coats for staff, but it was horrendous yesterday. We couldn't even put cushions out as they were getting drenched. It isn't much fun drinking a pint of beer in 30mph rain."
Wrigley has taken on extra staff to cope with outdoor-only service but had to close the bar on Monday and put staff back on furlough. He said it was frustrating that hospitality in England was still unable to serve customers indoors.
"It's saddening for me. Everyone in hospitality takes their responsibility seriously to manage things well, we don't encourage excessive drinking.
"We're having to put staff back on furlough, so it's costing the government more money. They should let us crack on with [indoor opening] now and trust us to act responsibly and have the controls and measures in place."
In Brighton, Brett Mendoza, landlord of the Caxton Arms, wrote on social media that customers had left due to the weather on Monday.
He tweeted: "Today I've benefitted from other pubs having to close early because of the wind and rain, and their outdoor space not as sheltered as mine. Then my garden couldn't take more of a battering, so people left. Cannot wait til everyone can be inside, this is a total nonsense."
Some businesses were able to keep trading despite the weather. The Hovingham Inn in North Yorkshire tweeted an image of customers sat outside in coats (pictured) and said: "Its windy, cold & raining but STILL we getting fantastic customers who are willing to come out & lend their support."
According to Springboard, high street footfall across the UK dropped 4.1% on Bank Holiday Monday compared to the previous week but rose 7.4% across indoor shopping centres as people sought refuge from the rain.
However, many businesses reported strong trade over the last three weeks with customers keen to get back to pubs and restaurants as they reopened outdoors across the country. As a result Heineken has had to temporarily limit the amount of Birra Moretti and Amstel pubs can order.
A Heineken spokesperson said demand was surpassing its "most optimistic forecasts" despite only 40% of pubs being able to open outdoor areas.
The spokesperson added: "We're working hard on a solution to meet demand – all our breweries are working flat out brewing beer and we're connected with our breweries in other parts of Europe to import additional beer to the UK.
"What's clear though, is that the British public have clearly missed their locals, cementing the role the great British pub plays in society."
It is hoped that indoor hospitality will be able to reopen in England and Wales on 17 May, with announcements expected next week.
Image: The Hovingham Inn
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