“We have been forgotten” – the bars and restaurants ordered to close more than two weeks ago, which no one seems to be talking about


The feeling among Bolton’s bar and restaurant owners is clear: they have been forgotten.It has now been more than two weeks since pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in the city were ordered to close as the number of coronavirus cases skyrocketed.

Yet uncertainty and frustration prevail without the restrictions ending anytime soon.

Starting tomorrow, hospitality businesses across the country will have to close at 10 p.m. under a national curfew.

The new restrictions, announced yesterday, are intended to curb rising rates of coronavirus infections, but have been greeted by widespread anger in the industry.

Yet Bolton remains subject to the much stricter rules imposed on September 8, and businesses say they don’t know when they can open next time.

Rebecca Brayshaw is the owner of Courtyard 36, a sleek and modern bar located inside the Grade II listed Little Bolton Town Hall on the outskirts of downtown.

She says she feels “frustrated and upset” with the situation she finds herself in.

“We feel forgotten in Bolton,” she explained.

“Indeed, we were locked up again. We had no help, advice or delay as to when this might change. “

Rebecca Brayshaw, owner of Courtyard 36

The government has ordered hotel businesses in Bolton to shut down with immediate effect after the borough’s coronavirus infection rate climbed to more than 200 per 100,000 residents.

Just eight days earlier, the government had encouraged people to “eat out to help” at hotel businesses in Bolton.

The sudden announcement was particularly difficult for Ms Brayshaw to accept given the time and effort she had invested in ensuring that the bar followed government guidelines.

It now finds itself in a situation similar to that of the national lockout between March and July, but without the same support.

“There were a lot of sleepless nights to make sure we did the right thing before we opened,” she said.

“We have had to increase our staff and reduce our ability to cope with the restrictions.

“Suddenly, it all started again.

“Many hotel companies across the country are now worried about how they are coping with the 10pm curfew, but I would like the opportunity to sort this out.

Court 36 has been closed since the introduction of stricter restrictions in Bolton on September 8

After opening in 2018, Ms Brayshaw said it took time to build customer loyalty due to the fact that it was tucked away in a relatively quiet area of ​​downtown Bolton.

She now fears for the future of her business, as well as the city’s wider hospitality industry.

“How many times can we stop and start? ” she asked.

“The costs are enormous, both financially and emotionally. I don’t know how we will be able to continue to survive.

“This is a really worrying time for everyone in the hotel industry in Bolton.

“Nowhere else faces the same issues as we do and this needs to be recognized.

“Bolton has to be at the top of the list when it comes to how things are going to be fixed.

“We’re not just a slide on a TV presentation, these are our lives.

“We wake up every morning and wonder if things will change. “

Court 36

At Northern Monkey, a craft beer bar in Nelson Square, it feels like you’ve been frozen.

Owner Ryan Bailey said: “We’ve been closed for almost three weeks and everyone seems to have forgotten about us.

“They don’t think about the impact this has on people’s livelihoods.

“With the initial lockdown, everyone knew where they were and we had the leave program and the grants.

“All of our staff are back on leave now, which ends in October. If nothing is done about it, it will lead to layoffs. “

Greater Manchester’s overnight economy adviser Sacha Lord has expressed fears that restrictions on Bolton’s hospitality businesses could lead to large-scale closures and layoffs.

Mr Bailey says he is determined his bar will survive, but fears that without any support the city’s nightlife will be all but wiped out.

Northern Monkey in Bolton town center

He added, “We are doing everything we can to make sure that we are still there when we get to the other side.

“There are bars that have closed and there will be many more.

“Bolton town center is in trouble right now, so God knows what effect that will have.

“You wonder if there will be any kind of nightlife left.

“You can’t push the economy and then shut it down. These are completely mixed messages. ”

Less than a mile from the town center at Chorley Old Road, Nick Cullen has run his own upscale restaurant for nearly two decades.

Operating in a terraced house, Nick’s Restaurant has carved out a reputation as one of Bolton’s most popular restaurants.

Nick Cullen, owner of Nick’s restaurant in Bolton

Still, Mr Cullen worries about how long it can last in the current climate and says he believes the city has been treated “unfairly.”

The city’s infection rate remains the highest in the country and there is no indication that the restrictions have helped stem the spread of the virus.

Yesterday Bolton Council chief David Greenhalgh called on the government to align Bolton with the rest of the country by letting the sites operate normally – provided they close early.

“It’s a nightmare,” Cullen said.

“The situation is like being pushed into a rubber dinghy in the dark.

“I am worried and unsure of the destination. For the first time in 20 years, it’s not in my hands. ”

When Nick reopened in July, social distancing guidelines meant he could only function less than half of his normal capacity.

Nick’s Restaurant has been one of the city’s most popular restaurants for almost two decades

Times have turned out to be tough and the additional restrictions have been hammered yet again.

Hotel businesses in Bolton can continue to trade by running a take-out service, but they must close before 10 p.m.

While some restaurants do, Mr. Cullen says it’s not possible for him.

He explained: ‘You can’t make a rack of lamb and expect someone to pay £ 35 for a take out when they can get fish and chips for a ten and feed their whole family. .

“People are coming out of the containment zone and have something to eat and drink in other boroughs.

“There should be some kind of support network.

“They turn us into a ghost town while everyone can go on. “


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