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East Sussex Pub Issues Crowdfund Appeal to Avoid Closure Amid Omicron Turmoil

A pub in Hastings has issued an appeal to avoid closure after COVID cases increased rapidly in Sussex.

Owners of the Marina Fountain in St Leonards are fearful they “wouldn’t make it to spring” as the Covid-pandemic has had a devastating impact on Christmas trading for the second year running.

The hospitality sector has been crippled by the emergence of the Omicron variant as thousands of Christmas bookings have been cancelled across the country.

On their go-fund me page licensee Jess Scarlett said : “As you can imagine, it has been incredibly difficult running a pub over the last two years and now, when we still haven’t really got back on our feet yet, it’s like the rug has been pulled from under us in the most crucial period of the year, the few weeks before Christmas, when we normally make most of the money that sees us through the winter.”

“Because of Omicron and Boris’ mixed messages, keeping all of the pubs open but telling people not to visit them, we have seen our Christmas trade collapse with the majority of our bookings and parties being cancelled and customers very thin on the ground.”

“This is disastrous in this business and to make matters worse we have been hung out to dry by Rishi Sunak. We have been offered £2,700 which is frankly an insult – it is less money then we take on a normal Sunday and wont even pay the suppliers.

When you realise that a pub relies on these few weeks to see it through until spring we have been put in an impossible situation where we probably won’t be able to open our doors again after Christmas and will have to close”

Business partner Rupert Walton said: “The Government saying COVID is rife but not putting any restrictions on pubs means that everyone made their own decision to stay away,” he added.

“Although the previous rules on table service and the rule of six weren’t easy, this might’ve made people more comfortable with going to the pub.

“It’s been an awful year. We’re already massively in debt, and feared we wouldn’t make it to spring. With these donations we will now be able to pay the rent and any standing invoices.”

“It’s not just the pub itself that is affected by a closure.

“We buy meat from the butchers, fish from the fishmongers – the whole community would miss out if we were forced to close.”

The original go fund me target of £15,000 has been exceeded and currently stands at £16,600.