Ultimate Covid divide on way for Monmouthshire border pubs

TWO pubs – on either side of the Wales-England border but within a pint’s sup of each other – sum up the huge differences in coronavirus regulations that are set to apply in the two nations from July 19.

From July 19, pubs in England will no longer have to require their customers to remain seated, with masks on and using table service.

The Welsh Government however, has said it will remain steadfast with their “data, not dates” approach, and has not yet outlined any plans to relax the current restrictions.

This means that the Bell Inn, in Redbrook, and the Boat Inn, in Penallt – two pubs just a couple of minutes’ walk apart – will again be following different rules.

The Wales-England border weaves its way in and around Redbrook – on the A466 between Monmouth and Chepstow – and the Bell is in England.

Landlord Nick Till said the ongoing difference in the rules has become “a bit repetitive”.

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“I think lifting all regulations is foolish and unnecessary,” he said.

“What harm does it do to avoid contact and cut down all risks?

“We have done pretty well with table service and would have been more than happy to continue with the service.

“I don’t know why the [UK] government is doing this.”

On the Welsh side of the border in Monmouthshire, Tom Ashton, bar manager at the Boat, said the past year has been difficult.

“We’ve been really fortunate for the support of locals and new customers since reopening,” he said.

He said he is hopeful that, as with previous easings, Wales would only be a couple of weeks behind England.

“If it follows the trend of all the other lockdowns, we’ll be fully open a week or two after England,” he said.

“The difference in restrictions between Wales and England would be an annoyance, but not as bad as last winter.

“Mostly we’re just glad for things to be almost back to normal.”

Boris Johnson announced on Monday that most restrictions in England will be swept away on July 19 – subject to a final Covid-10 data review on July 12.

But Welsh Government health minister Eluned Morgan said on the same day that Wales will not be following the same path out of lockdown restrictions as England.

South Wales Argus | Business