‘Shock’ over stand-up drinking delay

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Figures in the industry have criticised the government’s ‘lack of communication’ and said there was no justification for delaying stand-up service in pubs.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Richard Renouf announced that standing-up drinking, which was originally scheduled to be permitted from Monday 10 May, would not be introduced until Stage 7 of the government’s Covid reconnection roadmap, which does not come into place until Monday 14 June.

The Island currently has three known active cases of Covid-19 and it has been 32 days since a community-based case was identified.

In a statement, Deputy Renouf said: ‘Islanders will be aware that last month we accelerated other parts of the reconnection roadmap, including increasing gathering limits earlier than planned. As a result, following advice from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell, it has been decided that we should now delay stand-up drinking until Stage 7 [which comes into force on Monday 14 June]. This decision will, however, remain under review.’

Gavin Reid, managing director of Randalls, said he was ‘shocked’ when he heard the news, adding that he thought it would ‘have gone the other way’.

‘We are extremely disappointed with the decision,’ he said, ‘which has not been justified. They are moving the final hurdles further away when there is no reason to do so.

‘The government is belittling the industry and Islanders by making such a controlling decision without a specific reason as to why they have done it. There are so few Covid cases in the Island and we have not had a community transmission for almost a month and that includes no transmission as a result of the opening of pubs. Therefore, I cannot fathom why they have delayed vertical drinking.’

Mr Reid said the communication from government had been ‘poor’ and described the decision as ‘comedic’.

He added: ‘The only cases of Covid we have had have been as a result of inbound travel. If the government are so worried about the spread of Covid, then why not shut the borders and let the local economy and businesses get back to normal first?

‘This is going to have a huge impact on our venues. For a lot of them vertical drinking is the difference between breaking even and actually making profit, which is something everyone is in need of after the year we have had.’

Simon Soar, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said the decision made by the government was ‘nonsensical’.

‘It is disappointing, to say the least,’ he said.

‘We have had no community cases for so long but we are now going backwards. The damage to wet-led pubs is huge and the industry only has a finite time to make money this summer, while remembering that many have outstanding debts from Covid to pay before they can think about making a profit.

‘There has been no justification for the position they have put us in and the lack of communication from the government has been really poor.’

He added: ‘I fear for the mental health of business owners and their hard-working staff who are facing losing their jobs and livelihoods as these restrictions continue.’

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