'Sometimes we feel more like police than bar staff': Empty Tier 2 pubs say rules are impossible

The myriad rules of life in Tier 2 of the government’s coronavirus restrictions were blasted by businesses today, with pub owners saying they ‘feel more like police than bar staff’.

Usually bustling city centre high streets were exceptionally quiet as shoppers, workers and drinkers shunned Manchester.

The Shambles Square – normally packed with afternoon drinkers – looked abandoned.

Car parks were also half-empty as many employees avoided the city commute in favour of working from home.

The lack of people coming into the city has had a devastating impact on the pub trade.

Wayne Crowsley, 54, owner of the Rovers Return, in Manchester, said: ‘We are down probably around 40 per cent. 

‘When people come into the pub, we have to take their word that they are in the same bubble, household or are colleagues.

‘That’s all we can do unless the Government decides that people have to prove they are all from the same household.

‘We shut promptly at 10pm and we are put under a lot of pressure to make sure people are abiding by the rules.

‘Sometimes we feel more like police than bar staff.’

In Liverpool boozers are being asked to sign a disclaimer that they are from the same household after the city was thrown into a new lockdown. 

Wayne Crowsey, landlord of Manchester's Rovers Return, said rules him feel like the police

Wayne Crowsey, landlord of Manchester’s Rovers Return, said rules him feel like the police

Damien Brockway said he used to take 100 staff for a pint, but was now banned under Tier 2

Damien Brockway said he used to take 100 staff for a pint, but was now banned under Tier 2

A mask wearing Manchester resident on the city streets earlier today in the Tier 2 area

A mask wearing Manchester resident on the city streets earlier today in the Tier 2 area

Shambles Square in Manchester is usually packed but was abandoned this lunchtime

Shambles Square in Manchester is usually packed but was abandoned this lunchtime

A mural in Manchester today paying tribute to the NHS put up in the very quiet city centre

A mural in Manchester today paying tribute to the NHS put up in the very quiet city centre

‘When pubs became table service only, we stopped serving food because it was too labour intensive and employ too many staff.

‘We look after our staff well and I think paying two thirds of the wages if we go into Tier 3 is fair.

‘What I don’t think is fair is the £3,000 businesses would receive.

‘It is just a drop in the ocean when between £2,000 to £3,000 a week goes out in standing orders and that is on top of wages.

‘We are in business to make money and losing 40 per cent can be the difference between making a profit or a loss.

‘I am pleased Andy Burnham is standing up for Manchester but I think he is wrong about the two-week circuit breaker being nationwide.

‘Focus on the areas where infection rates are high.’

‘But I have to say Greater Manchester Police and Salford Council have been fantastic and given us a lot of support.’

Manchester has been deserted after the Government places it into Tier 2 of coronavirus rules

Manchester has been deserted after the Government places it into Tier 2 of coronavirus rules

Andy Burnham had been dubbed 'The King in the North' for his stance against Westminster

Andy Burnham had been dubbed ‘The King in the North’ for his stance against Westminster

Wayne continued: ‘If we were forced to close, we’d be losing around £2,000 a week.

‘For a few weeks we could stand that but if that continued it would be hard.

‘I can see a lot of pubs and businesses not re-opening if they were forced to close.’

After introducing a new three tier scheme to classify areas with high infection rates on Monday, Liverpool was the only area to immediately fall into tier three and faced another lockdown of pubs, casinos, betting shops, and gyms.

On what would normally be a busy Friday afternoon for bars and pubs as revellers pile in, to enjoy their first drinks of the weekend, Liverpool city centre was almost lifeless.

Outdoor seating areas were deserted and inside the situation wasn’t much better, with a maximum of half a dozen people sitting down for a meal with their drinks in any one place.

One pub manager told us that he had loved his career in hospitality for years – until now – adding that aggravation towards his staff from the general public had become almost unbearable.

Kyle Dottie, 33, Operations Manager at Mikhail Hotel and Leisure, which owns Punch Tarmey’s Irish pub in the city’s Baltic Triangle said: ‘Our biggest headache is dealing with the general public.

‘After lockdown we were smashing it, but after these new restrictions were imposed at the start of the week we are doing 10-20 per cent of our normal trade, but with the same staffing levels required because it all has to be table service.

‘When a group of customers come in we ask them to sign in to the NHS track and trace, sanitise their hands and then we ask them if they’re all from the same household.

‘We ask them to sign a form stating that they are definitely from the same household but after that there’s not much more we can do, we just have to take their word for it.

‘Police and licensing have told us themselves that beyond that we can’t police it, so if police and licensing were to turn up at the venue and find that a group of people weren’t from the same household that would be on them not us.

‘We’ve had aggravation from customers refusing to wear masks, girls saying they don’t want to because it will ruin their make up or old fellas claiming they are exempt.

‘We are telling every customer now that they have to order a main meal with their drink.

‘People have been claiming at the door they will order a meal and then refusing to order one when they’ve got their pint.

‘They claim it’s ridiculous and get annoyed at us but what the members of the public need to understand is that we know that but our hands are tied behind our back, we have to do this or we could lose our license.

‘I have done this job for years and years and I absolutely loved it, but I absolutely hate my job at the moment, it’s almost unbearable.’

Drinker Damian Brockway, CEO of telecommunications company Amvoc, was enjoying a pint of San Miguel in the Rovers Return in Manchester.

He said: ‘Going for a pint is a lot harder now than it used to be.

‘You have remember you mask, hope there is somewhere to sit and that the pub is serving food.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham had said the city needed more money to survive

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham had said the city needed more money to survive

The few pedestrians in Manchester were seen wearing masks outside in an effort to help safety

The few pedestrians in Manchester were seen wearing masks outside in an effort to help safety

City leaders have been infuriated by government and accused them of testing systems there

City leaders have been infuriated by government and accused them of testing systems there

What is the difference between Tier One and Tier Two? 

TIER ONE 

Normal social distancing should be followed. Face masks on public transport and in shops etc.

Rule of Six on gatherings indoors and outdoors, and 10pm curfew on pubs. 

 TIER TWO

The Tier One rules still apply. 

In addition, households are banned from mixing in any indoor setting.

That means that socialising inside homes and bars is off limits.

However, in pub gardens, private gardens and other outdoor spaces it is still permitted as long as the Rule of Six is obeyed. 

‘We have three offices in the UK and a huge part of the character of the organisation is social aspect.

‘We employ a lot of younger people and they regularly go to the pub after work to relax and socialise.’

The 53-year-old added: ‘As a company, we would often take up to 100 staff out to the pub at lunch-time.

‘We would have a few drinks and a bite to eat – nothing too wild – and get to know them better.

‘But with the restrictions, we can no longer do this.

‘It’s a shame because it gave everyone a boost and kept them happy, and at the same time it was helping trade at the pub.’

Richard Walker, 28, was having a lunch-time pint with colleague, Rob Thompson, 31, at the Black Bull.

Construction worker Richard, from Stockport, said: ‘The city centre as been pretty much like this ever since we came out of lockdown.

‘I don’t think the city has recovered.

‘This place is usually packed but look around – you can take your pick of where to sit.’

He added: ‘I’m not a fan of table service, not being able to stand at the bar or move about the pub. 

 ‘It has ruined the atmosphere and takes the edge of having a pint.

‘We come to have a pint and have a laugh but when the pubs are so empty, you’re very conscious of making too much noise.

‘I think it’s only going to get worse as we get into winter.’ 

Rob, from Manchester, said: ‘People are definitely staying away.

‘It’s too restrictive so people are not bothering.

‘I’m not sure it will ever go back to how it was. Once people start getting out of the habit of going out, they start to fill their time doing other stuff.

‘It’s a shame because having a laugh with your mates in the pub always cheers you up.

‘You could have had a bad day but after a couple of hours in the pub with your mates taking the mick out of each other, you feel miles better.

‘All that’s gone now. Going for a drink is supposed to be enjoyable. If it’s not, then people will stay at home.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk