Hartlepool hospitality chief says Covid has changed 'whole nature' of industry as he looks forward to brighter times

A spokesman for Hartlepool’s hospitality sector says the whole nature of the industry has been changed by Covid – but is hopeful for the future.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 9:00 am

Darab Rezai, chairman of Hartlepool Licensees Association, says bars and restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic and enforced closures over the last year.

But he says there is a “ray of hope” in the vaccination programme which he hopes will keep the virus under control and allow venues to operate once again.

Reflecting on a year since the first lockdown, Mr Rezai said: “A lot of outlets have gone through a lot of hardship, especially the bigger units who have got higher rents. They have suffered tremendously.

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Darab Rezai, chairman of Hartlepool Licencees Association which represents the town's hospitality businesses.
Darab Rezai, chairman of Hartlepool Licencees Association which represents the town's hospitality businesses.

"Staff have gone through a lot of hard times. But it seems to me that there is a ray of hope and we’re hoping that the future isn’t shattered by people not following the rules.”Mr Rezai said around 20%-30% of hospitality businesses have provided food takeouts to “tick over” but said drinks sales normally account for almost half of bars’ and restaurants’ takings.

He added: “The whole nature of hospitality has been changed by Covid-19. It was tough before the virus.

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"The positive thing coming out of it is it has taught us we have to be adaptable and we have got to think of rainy days.

Navigation Point on Hartlepool marina is home to numerous bars and restaurants.

"Hospitality is the fifth biggest industry and is there to provide a service to people. People’s mental state is affected by not being able to go out and socialise.

"We are just hopeful that everybody will go for the vaccine and as a full society we would be able to control the virus and we can get on with every day life.

"The only way that can happen is by people listening to the scientists and still being careful so we get round the corner.”

Hospitality venues are due to be able to reopen outdoors, including pub beer gardens, no earlier than Monday, April 12.

The Government has also said that all pubs and restaurants will be allowed to put up marquees and gazebos to be able to serve outside.

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