Heart of the community: England’s pubs reopen after painful pandemic year

London, April 12Advertisement

As England’s pubs open their doors for the first time in months on Monday, landlady Vanda Pera hopes it marks the end of COVID-19 lockdowns that put her village pub under strain and drove hundreds more like it out of business.

Pera, who runs The Crown Inn in Capel in southern England, has held online quiz nights, delivered meals to residents and even given away unsold beer over the last year. Now, she is eager to get back behind the bar.

“I’ve got so many events booked and lined up to … let everybody know that we’ve survived and say ‘let’s just carry on’,” Pera told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People are learning that it’s not just about drinking – it’s about just coming out and being in a different space that’s safe and nice,” she said by phone.

A British institution, pubs are traditionally at the heart of community life – from crowded city drinking holes where workers flock after the office to rural meeting places that are often the only place for villagers to mingle.

But the impact of COVID-19 restrictions was the death knell for some in an industry already struggling under pressures that see hundreds of pubs disappear each year.

About 2,000 pubs closed for good during the pandemic, estimated the British Beer and Pub Association in March, with experts and publicans saying they fear more will be shuttered.