Pubs split in border town as only one side can reopen this weekend
By Eleanor Barlow, PA
Drinkers in a town on the English and Welsh border will be able to return to the pub this weekend – but only at one end of the high street.
In Saltney, which is partly in Flintshire, North Wales, and partly in Cheshire, England, just one of the town’s four pubs will be allowed to open its doors again on Saturday while the others remain closed under the Welsh Government’s regulations.
The Brewery Arms, which is separated from Wales by a railway bridge, is gearing up to welcome punters back with social distancing measures but sister pub the Corner Pin, about half a mile down the town’s High Street, has no date set for reopening.
The Anchor Hotel, which sits directly next to the piece of land which the border runs along, has also just missed out on opening back up for business.
Paul Gabbutt, area manager of Winwick Taverns, which runs both the Brewery Arms and the Corner Pin, said: “The two pubs are about half a mile apart but we have still got no guidance on how the Corner Pin will reopen and we don’t know a date.
“At the Brewery Arms we’ve been doing risk assessments and online staff training, and making it compliant so we’ll be able to reopen.
“It doesn’t make any sense, you can walk from one pub to the other.”
Pubs across the UK called last orders on March 20 as the country went into lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given establishments in England the green light to reopen on Saturday, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is yet to announce when pints can be served again.
Alan Banks, landlord of the Anchor, said customers had been eager to know when they could return.
Mr Banks told the PA news agency: “There has been a little bit of confusion with customers asking us if we are reopening on July 4.
“I tell them they have got to remember we are in Wales and we are a little bit behind England.
“Customers should know they won’t be able to come in here on Saturday. But the pub a few hundreds yards up the road will be able to reopen.”
He said managers from the Corner Pin and the Saltney Tavern, which will also remain closed, would be joining him later in the week for a webinar with licensing bosses which they hoped would answer some questions.
Mr Gabbutt said the Brewery Arms was expected to be busy on Saturday as it would be the only pub able to serve beer in the town, near Chester.
He said: “We’re trying to do social distancing so really it would have been better that all the pubs were open.
“The Brewery is going to be the only pub in Saltney.”
Last week, Welsh finance minister Rebecca Evans said talks with the hospitality sector were “ongoing”, but detailed timings could not be given.
Mr Banks said he had been busy decorating the pub and improving the beer garden as he waited for guidance on how he could reopen, including whether the two-metre rule would be relaxed in Wales as it had been in England.
He said: “When they closed the pubs it was 100% closure across the UK.
“Now it seems a bit like it’s one person just not wanting to follow the lead of somebody else, when you see the attitude of our government compared to the English.”