Blackpool B&B owners face 'bleak future' following Tier 3 Covid restrictions

17 October 2020, 13:15

October is traditionally one of the busiest periods for the seaside town
October is traditionally one of the busiest periods for the seaside town. Picture: PA

Blackpool B&B owners are worried about a "bleak" future as Tier 3 Covid restrictions for Lancashire cause guests to cancel bookings.

October is traditionally one of the busiest periods for the seaside town as crowds flock to see the Blackpool Illuminations during the school half-term holidays, local business owners said.

But they fear the new Covid-19 measures, which came into force on Saturday, will drive tourists away, despite some attractions remaining open.

Adam Mayes, who runs the 10-bedroom Phoenix Guest House on Cocker Street, said the restrictions were a "kick in the teeth" for B&B owners.

He said: "Since Tier 3 was announced, we have already lost £500-worth of bookings for the next two weeks.

Read more: More than half of England living with heightened coronavirus restrictions

"Half-term for us is usually our busiest week of the whole year, and now we are down to just six bookings.

"So now we are considering closing for the remainder of the year because it does not feel worthwhile to remain open. It's a bit bleak."

Mr Mayes said many prospective guests were under the impression that Blackpool was now "closed" due to the new restrictions.

But he claimed that some pubs will be serving sit-down meals, meaning they can remain open, while the illuminations will stay switched on until January 3.

Around 1.5 million people in Lancashire are now living under the most severe coronavirus controls, with pubs and bars required to close unless they can serve meals and indoor mixing banned.

Read more: No 10 urged to restart Greater Manchester coronavirus lockdown talks

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Residents in "high alert" level areas can travel to hotels, but should only do so with their own household or support bubble, according to Government advice.

Stewart Norris, owner of the Sutton Park B&B on Woodfield Road, Blackpool, said he had lost about £1,500 in bookings since the measures were announced.

He said: "For this weekend, next weekend and the weekend after, we are looking at eight cancellations of different groups of guests.

"On a Saturday night in October we would normally be fully booked with families and couples, but instead we have two double rooms arriving tonight, and that's only because their travel agent won't refund them."

Mr Norris, whose B&B has 10 rooms, said he had managed to move some bookings to next year as guests had "given up on 2020".

Meanwhile, Kerry Humphries, licensee of The Mitre pub, said she had to temporarily close on Friday as her premises did not have a "major food menu".

She said: "To be fair, our brewery Star Pubs and Bars said pubs which have shut down completely don't have to pay rent. Without that we would be pulling our hair out.

"The issue is that they (the Government) have put us into Tier 3, but I have not seen anywhere how long that could last for."

Blackpool Council leader Lynn Williams said in a statement: "No leader wants to see their town, its people, its businesses and its economy under such measures but that is now the reality of the situation and we will do everything we can to support our residents through this extremely challenging time."

Lancashire is the second area of England to be placed under the toughest coronavirus restrictions, with measures introduced on Saturday.

The Prime Minister urged leaders in Greater Manchester to "reconsider and engage constructively" over Tier 3 restrictions but says he will intervene if an agreement cannot be reached.

At a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson says local measures were necessary as he sought to avoid another national lockdown but added he "cannot rule anything out".

Read more: Nearly 28,000 Covid infections every day in first week of October