PUB landlords in Ledbury say their businesses are struggling to survive, with the coronavirus lockdown meaning they will stay closed until at least July – and the town's mayor fears some independent watering holes won't open again.

After the government announced that pubs and restaurants won't be allowed to open again until July at the earliest, business owners across the nation have said they fear their venue won't survive.

In Ledbury, bosses at popular pubs The Full Pitcher, Farmers Arms and The Lion told the Reporter how they have been affected.

Hannah Joplin, who runs the Farmers Arms in Horse Road, Ledbury, said: “We’ve had to diversify into takeaways and vegetable boxes to pay the bills - it’s not a long term solution.

“I think Boris has said the hospitality industry will not start again until July as he doesn’t want to put money into this industry. When we do open, serving say 20 people during one night is not profitable, and what about the cost of personal protective equipment and other measures - who will bear this cost?”

Christian Solley, who owns The Lion micropub in Bye Street, said: “I’m lucky as I was given a small business grant which goes on paying the bills but obviously I have no income from the pub, which has been my main source of income for some time.

“I have no staff - I only get staff in when I want to take time off - so that is one thing I don’t have to worry about.

“I don’t think the hospitality industry will be open until at least September.”

While a spokesman for the Full Pitcher in New Street said: “There is no income as we are not open and we can’t as it’s not safe - I agree with the Government’s decision - but as soon as restrictions are lifted we’ll be back again.”

Ledbury's mayor, Councillor Phillip Howells, said: “Ledbury is a town which relies heavily on tourism so our pubs are really struggling and will continue to struggle for some time to come.

“I’m concerned some of the indepedent pubs will not open again.

“When they do re-open, with people furloughed, will customers have money to spend in pubs?

“I know workers in pubs were worried about losing their jobs even before lockdown.”

Nik Antona, CAMRA’s national chairman, said: “The Campaign for Real Ale continues to urge the government to enhance and extend the support package for the hospitality industry to ensure jobs are protected, and businesses are in the best position to reopen when allowed.

“The government must recognise that even when allowed to reopen, hospitality businesses will be operating at hugely reduced trade. The support package needs to be extended beyond reopening and transition funding should be made available to help pubs, bars and producers start up again.

“There needs to be an immediate relaxation of licensing laws to allow all businesses to seek revenue from off-sales for delivery and/or safe collection by customers.”