A PUB landlady in Fordingbridge fears the hospitality industry will need "more support in the months if not years to come" due to the impact of Covid-19. 

Caroline Roylance, who runs The George in Bridge Street, has been speaking to the Journal to look back over the year after the first lockdown came into force. 

The pub took the decision to close its doors on March 20, last year before the first lockdown came into force on March 23, 2020 to ensure the safety of staff and customers. 

"We took the decision to close with no support, no support from the brewery, or the government. We didn't know if any support would come so we didn't know if we would still have a business. But it was just the right thing to do."

It did try doing takeaways to start with but was "not viable" for the pub. 

Struggles to get financial support 

Caroline says it was a struggle to get financial grant support due to pub's high rateable value but the furlough scheme ensured the business was able to still pay its staff, which gave them "hope" for the business. 

It wasn't until July, that the pub finally received funding support which was reinvested into improving outside facilities in the courtyard. 

"Eventually we got it in July when we were open again. But we got through lockdown with absolutely nothing, which was really, really difficult," continued Caroline.

Despite spells of opening when lockdowns eased, it has been shut for around eight-and-a-half months out of 12, which has added to the financial impact. The decision was also taken not to open over Christmas. 

'It's a difficult situation'

“It is really hard,” admits Caroline, who is trying to remain positive and look at more ways to enhance its outside area for when it can reopen.

"But, it's not just us."

She added: “It is a difficult situation but we are trying our hardest to get through it.”

More help will be needed for the hospitality industry, Caroline says, and a hospitality minister representing the industry was needed at government level.

“Hospitality is going to need help for months if not years to come,” she added.

"They [the government] can't help us forever but if they don't there won't be hospitality anymore."

Support for hospitality sector in the future

She said the hospitality sector provided many jobs in areas and "without pubs and restaurants it is a really different world were living in". 

Despite the uncertainty Caroline says she is trying to stay positive and hopes it will be a good year for British tourism. 

A covered pergola in the courtyard is currently being built to provide more Covid safe dining space which will be in addition to the pub's outside dining pods in preparation to reopen. 

Optimism for the future 

“I am optimistic we will survive but I don’t know how hard it is going to be and what we are going to have to change and other things we are going to have to do to survive," said Caroline. 

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