Why one Suffolk landlady won't be reopening her pub on April 12

Landlady Sharon Shipp The Chestnut Horse Great Finborough

Landlady Sharon Shipp from The Chestnut Horse in Great Finborough said the April 12 date is too soon for her to open up with confidence. - Credit: Rachel Edge

The landlady of a popular pub in Great Finborough said she won't be rushing to reopen her beer garden on April 12 as she thinks it could "make or break her" business.

Sharon Shipp has been the landlady at The Chestnut Horse pub in Great Finborough since September 2019 and was disappointed to hear pubs would only be allowed to open with outdoor service from Monday April 12, while non-essential shops can welcome customers inside. 

She described it as taking a child to a sweetshop but not letting them have any sweets, adding all industries should be treated the same. 

Under the Government's "roadmap" out of lockdown, which kickstarted on Monday when students returned to schools, the hospitality sector will be able to serve customers outside without the need for a substantial meal or the 11pm curfew. 

Instead, and due to the uncertainties facing the industry, Ms Shipp has decided she won't be reopening when punters are allowed back to beer gardens. 

She said this is for a number of reasons, adding the uncertainty is a "real worry".

"There are so many things against us, including the weather," explained Ms Shipp, who has worked in pubs all of her adult life. 

"It will also cost me £4,000 to restock the cellar, but if there is a surge in Covid cases and we have to shut down again more beer and money will go to waste. 

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"We are also known for having a good selection of ales, but these all have a small shelf life of three days so we won't be able to offer them to customers."

Ms Shipp would need to reinstate the six members of staff she has furloughed and even though she has ample space outside, she said the financial side is "too scary". 

"If we were only able to open a week we would have all out of date and dead stock, so I don't want to stock up," she said. 

"We have got to be patient as if we open up too soon then we could end up back in lockdown."

During the first lockdown Ms Shipp transformed the pub into a community shop to help people access vital goods, and she has since been running a takeaway food service at the weekends with the help of her son.

If things change Ms Shipp said she will look to reopen the beer garden just on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays when they are already there making the takeaway food. 

She said: "Financially this could make or break me if we open too early and waste stock. 

"I also want people to be confident to return to the pubs safely, so May 17 is a much safer date for us."

Meanwhile, a number of pubs have announced that they will be reopening from April 12. You can see the list here.