A FURIOUS pub landlord says he won’t be welcoming punters back after the lockdown because it is financially safer to remain closed.

Stuart Buckley, landlord at the Boars Head, in High Street, Braintree, has hit out at the latest tiered lockdown rules put in place by the Government now the month-long national restrictions have come to an end.

Under the new Tier Two rules, pubs can open in Essex but must serve a “substantial meal” alongside alcohol.

Mr Buckley says the rules would mean he would need to employ more staff and risk running up a hefty wage bill.

He said: “We won’t be reopening. They effectively want to turn pubs into restaurants with these new rules.

“I would need at least six members of staff to be going around taking orders and doing table service, whereas I only need about two to serve drinks for customers.

“There is no point me having extra staff and another chef just to serve food to people that don’t even want it.

“I think it is clever what the Government has done because they’ve said the lockdown is lifted but a lot of pubs won’t be opening with these rules.

“This year has been so stressful and we’ve already had about five months with no business.

“The reality now is it’s financially safer not to open than it is to open and serve food.

“Who would have ever have thought that would make sense?”

Mr Buckley says he had been planning to reopen after the November lockdown and used the time to redecorate his pub.

A new marquee was also installed outside to help keep customers socially distanced and increase capacity.

But the decision to place Essex into Tier Two restrictions means Mr Buckley’s plans have been left in disarray and he admits he is unlikely to start pulling pints again until the rules are lifted.

He said: “We had a crack at opening after the first lockdown and trade was doing OK. But the Rule of Six came in and then the tiers. By the end, it wasn’t really worth it.

“We thought we were going to be in Tier One this time but everything has changed.

“I think they are going to reassess the tiers in about two weeks so we’re hoping we will move back down to Tier One then.

“But my accountant’s response to that was ‘Good luck, there’s no chance that will be happening’.

“There’s just no way we can open again when we’re in Tier Two.”

He added: “The worst thing now is we won’t be eligible for financial support.

“We had it during lockdown but because we’re technically allowed to open and we’re choosing not to because of the ridiculous rules, we won’t be given a penny.

“It’s hard enough being a pub landlord without all this nonsense going on and all these hoops to jump through.

“What they’re doing to pubs is a disgrace.”

MPs voted in favour of the tiered lockdown system in the Commons on Tuesday.

Braintree MP James Cleverly said: “Adherence to these tiers is how we avoid another national lockdown.

“As mass testing and vaccines are rolled out through winter and into the spring, the need for even localised restrictions will gradually reduce and life can begin to return closer to normality.”