Radnorshire bosses’ fears as Covid fire break begins

RADNORSHIRE businesses have reacted to the Welsh Government’s new two-week “firebreak” lockdown with a mix of inevitability, anger, disappointment and fear – but some support the move.

After reopening in recent months, Presteigne landlord Dale Gorman feels the green shoots of recovery that had started to sprout have now left businesses to restart all over again.

“It’s all a bit disheartening when we are all trying our best and working to the guidelines to create a safe environment and then be shut down for doing the correct thing,” said Dale, who has run the Royal Oak with partner Claire since 2013.

“We’re basically in a situation of can’t do right for doing wrong and, personally, it doesn’t make sense to lock down a rural community that’s been pretty safe so far.”

His concerns are shared by fellow hospitality businesses around the county. Builth Wells Mayor Gwyn Davies, who is also a co-owner in the family-run business which includes the town’s Fountain Inn, fears the worst in the lead-up to Christmas.

“I’m genuinely concerned for the local businesses being shut down again this close to Christmas,” said Mr Davies.

“Some small independent traders, I fear, will shut, possibly for the last time, which will lead to job losses in our area.”

Up the road in Llandrindod Wells, managing director Justin Baird-Murray is worried for his staff at the Metropole Hotel as government support this time around will not be as substantial as it was under the previous lockdown.

“This is especially difficult following 20 weeks of closure through the summer,” said Mr Baird-Murray, with the Metropole’s turnover down a massive £2.3 million so far this year.

“My main concern is that the Welsh Government put in place adequate measures to support our staff. The Job Support Scheme guarantees only 67 per cent of an employees’ salary and I don’t see how that is fair. Why should the staff suffer financially over something that is simply not their fault?”

Two business owners, however, feel the government have made the right call. They admitted that, although concerned for their own livelihoods, they agree the lockdown being ushered in is the right decision.

“My reaction to Monday’s announcement is, on the whole, I’m in agreement,” said Alison Proudman, who has been landlady at the Golden Lion in Knighton for the last 13 years.

“I am happy to follow the rules if it gets us the right results.

“I am feeling obviously disappointed that we’re back at the stage but hopefully it sounds like it will only be for a short time.”

Presteigne barber Ian Wood backs the new restrictions because clearly not everyone has been following guidelines.

“Yes, this lockdown will affect my business, but I’m more concerned with keeping my health,” said Ian, who has diversified since the initial lockdown in March by converting his business into a mobile one.

“I’ve seen people around ignoring social distancing and not wearing masks properly or at all.

“I was rebuilding after the last lockdown as I changed my business structure and now I will just have to start again.

“I used to have a shop in Presteigne but gave it up due to lockdown. I’m now mobile.”

County Times | Llandrindod Wells & Rhayader