We cannot keep turning our businesses on and off like a tap. It is not sustainable,” Paul Welburn, head chef at 215 Kitchen and Drinks in Summertown, said on hearing the lockdown news.

Ox In A Box has been investigating the consequences of the November lockdown, announced yesterday, on our local pubs, cafes and restaurants, as Oxfordshire’s hospitality industry prepares to shut from Thursday until December 2 to halt the steep rise in Coronavirus cases.

“It is another huge bombshell to everyone, and devastating for businesses”

Kay Chandler at The White Hart in Fyfield said: “We had just constructed an outdoor orangery covering the whole of our terrace, ready to extend our service area and give people an outdoor dining option! The last fairy light went up yesterday!

The White Hart in Fyfield

“Whilst it is clear that a lockdown is needed to protect the NHS and save lives, the effect on hospitality is devastating yet again. For us personally, I am just so disappointed. We have worked so hard to be busy AND safe over the last few months and to overcome the latest round of restrictions.”

“This was inevitable. I just wish it had been done earlier”

215’s Paul Welburn, who’d been celebrating retaining their three AA rosettes, agreed: “It is another huge bombshell to everyone, and devastating for businesses in the UK.

Inside at 215

Sarah Heather Holt who runs The Mole Inn in Toot Baldon and has just opened The Mole and Chicken in Easington said: “To say we are devastated is an understatement. It’s heartbreaking.

“Our teams have worked tirelessly to deliver the best food and service in a safe way since we’ve re opened and it’s so so sad that we will have to close again. 

“We’ve made  it this far, so stick with us and we will ride this roller coaster for as long as we can”

“It’s going to have a huge impact on the business, the cash flow, and obviously the team who love being at work and who do such a great job each and every day.”

On the terrace at The Mole and Chicken

“It’s truly gutting that we have to close again after working so hard to create a welcoming and safe environment for our customers,” Jim & Claire Alexander of Killingworth Castle in Wootton, and The Ebrington Arms, said.

But as always, while licking their wounds, Oxfordshire’s pubs and restaurants are already gearing up to reinstate the takeaway options and delivery service that got them through the last lockdown.

Baz Butcher of The White Hart in Wytham, who is also constructing a huge new outdoor dining area, said: “This was inevitable and I just wish it had been done earlier. We have already pivoted back to offering a takeaway and delivery service from Friday November 7, and we’ll be even better this time with our White Hart ‘At Home’ service that was extremely popular during the last lockdown.

The pods at the White Hart in Wytham

But with all eyes now focused on a busy and profitable December, will it be enough? “We are massively hopeful that December will make up for November but are worried about the impact on people and their behaviour when the lockdown is lifted,” Sarah Heather-Holt from The Moles said.

“We just really hope that our customers loyalty will continue when we reopen again in December.”

“It will be tough,” Jennie Barry at The Cinnamon Stick in Middle Barton said, “but we are still determined to see it through. “We’ve made  it this far, so stick with us and we will ride this roller coaster for as long as we can.”

The Cinnamon Stick

Kay Chandler at the White Hart in Fyfield adds: “Times have been so tough but we have risen to every challenge that has been thrown at us and remain positive. With the support of our amazing team and loyal customers, we know we can come through this and be even stronger than before.” 

The new lockdown still needs to be voted through parliament.

Katherine MacAlister

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