Ledbury pubs are opening as usual for New Year’s Eve despite rising numbers of Covid cases forcing other local venues to close.

Hanbao and the Exchange in Worcester are among the restaurants and pubs that won’t be open on New Year’s Eve, while the Swan in Whittington has been closed yesterday and today.

Landlords in Ledbury told us they were still going ahead but were doing everything they could to keep patrons and staff safe.

Recent government figures showed Covid cases had risen by almost 50% in the seven days up to December 23.

Chris Howell of the Oak Inn at Staplow said the pub was still opening as normal tomorrow.

“Since the first lockdown we’ve kept all the safety restrictions in place, so we’ve taken the decision to open but we’re doing it responsibly,” he said.

“We’ve been really busy all over Christmas and tomorrow we’re going to do a three-course meal, we’ve got live music from Amaretto Lounge and a disco. We’re looking forward to it.”

Chris said he is unsure whether the government will introduce any new Covid measures in the new year or not, but said the Oak Inn will continue to keep things as safe as possible.

Ledbury Reporter:

“We’ve started to go ahead and book things in - we’ve got our James Bond night on January 12 but we’ll move that outside if we have to. We’re quite flexible so if something does change, we’ll just do what they say.

“I think they should make masks compulsory and also the use of the track and trace app, but they haven’t. We insist on masks now, we do daily Covid updates on Facebook and that helps people feel really safe when they come to us.”

The Seven Stars in The Homend will be opening as usual to bookings and walk-ins.

Manager Ros Saunders said she was hopeful that people would still come out for New Year’s Eve but predicted a quiet couple of months ahead.

“It’s difficult at the moment,” she said. “We’re not expecting any new restrictions to come in but we do think it’ll be quiet in the new year, although January and February are always quiet months.

“You can’t blame people, I’ve been more cautious than usual this Christmas.”

The Talbot, in New Street, is fully booked for tomorrow night, with live entertainment being provided by local band The Ferrets and an 80s fancy dress theme.

Landlord Richard Jennings said all necessary Covid safety measures remain in place.