The owner of The Railway Telegraph has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the Covid safety of his staff and customers but if the hospitality industry goes in to lockdown again he is uncertain if the pub would reopen.
As the country fears a second wave of the virus with some northern cities facing new lockdown rules, landlord Neal Rekhi has strictly adhered to the guidance. Numbers are restricted, with screens up at the bar, table service, track and trace, increased security and he even purchased a fogging machine (pictured) which is used to disinfect the pub every day.
He revealed 40 customers had been refused entry after failing ‘red, amber, green’ temperature tests.
The pub took advantage of the bounce back loan which has enabled it to ‘ride the wave’ but capacity is now limited to less than half and coupled with the loss of football revenue prices had to increase.
He said: “People hate the restrictions and some of our regulars are going elsewhere because of it but I can’t change the model. I couldn’t live with myself in the knowledge that I hadn’t done all I could and someone died of coronavirus.”
He wouldn’t comment on others not doing the same simply saying the government made them ‘guidelines rather than the law’, adding: “If we had to close again I think it would be highly unlikely we would reopen. You can’t run a business on a yo, yo.”
Plastic face visors worn by many hairdressers and barbers may not be enough to stop coronavirus particles from spreading and ministers are now facing calls to revise guidance to require them to wear face masks, as well as the visors.
However, in some local establishments no PPE is being worn. Wearing masks in shops also appears to be optional in Thornton Heath despite being compulsory and those without masks aren’t challenged by shop staff and there is no enforcement.
St Paul’s Church opened to parishioners for the first time on Sunday but it was a very different Sunday service with churchgoers having to book and wear masks, with numbers limited to 35 and no singing. The church also saw the closure of the Mini Stars nursery which rented accommodation at St Paul’s. Four per cent of nurseries say they may have to close and others are facing operating at a loss for months with little government help.
The council along with other key services has developed a local outbreak plan and continue to prepare for any outbreaks of Covid-19. Thornton Heath was particularly hard hit by the virus with at least 59 deaths out of 300 in Croydon. Figures released by Public Health England (on July 28) revealed Croydon was the worst affected borough with 1,877 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
According to Croydon council documents the number of funerals during the peak week of 11 May saw the crematorium operating at 97 per cent. Croydon has the highest number of care homes in London with 68 of the deaths in the borough’s 123 homes. Other factors behind the high infection rate has been the impact of housing, poor health such as diabetes and the disproportionate number of deaths among the BAME community.
In May Dr Agnelo Fernandes, of the Parchmore Medical Practice revealed to The Chronicle the surgery had seen the numbers of deaths more than double from 20 to 50 compared to the same four months of the year in 2019.
The practice has the highest number of patients with diabetes in Croydon. He also feared Covid would bring with it a ’time bomb’ of health problems with patients initially refusing treatment for other conditions.
One man in the midst of a heart attack refused to go to hospital because he was so scared of catching the virus and even after an electrocardiogram (ECG) detected the life threatening condition and an ambulance was called, he felt safer going home. MP Steve Reed also relayed the case of a young man with an underlying mental health condition who had also refused treatment for a psychotic episode and had subsequently taken his own life.