On Thursday 2nd July, the Welsh Government announced that bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants can begin to re-open outdoors in Wales from July 13, if cases of coronavirus continue to fall.
Speaking at the daily press briefing in Cathays Park, International Relations Minister Eluned Morgan said that the announcement follows a ‘rapid review’ of the hospitality sector in Wales – but the reaction from those within the sector has been mixed.
Debs Lewis, co-founder of the award-winning Welsh street food outfit Dusty Knuckle Pizza said:
“We are fortunate to have one site that is exclusively outdoors, but for many restaurants & pubs across the country, this announcement will not go far enough, and after months of waiting, we are sure they will be feeling very frustrated.
We are lucky that we can look forward to firing up the oven and welcoming people back to our outdoor dining space at The Boneyard in Canton (which we will open from the 16th July), but we are eager to hear more from the Welsh Government to allow the rest of our sector to reopen, too.”
Last week, the Wales Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC) – said that the impact of Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown meant it could take years for the sector, which employs 135,000 in Wales, to recover.
It warned that with many venues potentially being forced to close for good, without urgent support there would be a “lost generation of entrepreneurs” as well as unemployment for thousands, many in the 18-30 age group.
Following Thursday’s announcement, many of those businesses in Wales without access to outdoor space are pushing for support from local councils to help them access communal areas which can be repurposed for hospitality.
Shumana Palit, co-founder of the Ultracomida Group who own two deli-restaurants in Narberth and Aberystwyth, as well as Curado Bar and Vermut in Cardiff city centre, said:
“As the furlough schemes, grants and loans that have helped us to survive are already running out, our main feeling at this point is that this is all too little, too late. The news today that it’s only outdoor spaces that will be allowed to open from the middle of July is heart-breaking for us, as we don’t have much outdoor space at all. We are eagerly waiting to hear about whether any outdoor space can be created specifically for us by local councils, but we are yet to have anything confirmed.”
Laurain Veaudour, owner of Cardiff’s Cocorico Patisserie in Cardiff, echoed Shumana’s feelings about outdoor space, and also expressed concern about the short notice given to the sector:
“It is very good news that finally an opening date has been announced for the hospitality sector – but limiting this to outdoor only will have a huge impact on the number of businesses that will actually be able to reopen. At Cocorico Patisserie, we have already struggled in getting hold of certain ingredients just to run our takeaway element, so it feels like 11 days may not be enough time for a lot of businesses to get ready. I just hope that Wales will be able to level up with the other UK countries and open up properly, very soon.”
For other businesses with ample outdoor space, today’s update was welcome news.
Nick Saunders, founder of THE DEPOT, a 22,500 sq ft warehouse venue on the outskirts of Cardiff city centre, said: