PUBLICANS and operators across the county have reached "crisis point" says an MP as an tentative date is giving for outdoor opening.

Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, is backing pubs who are calling on the Welsh Government to provide them with more support and clear dates on when they can expect to reopen.

At the April 22 review, ministers will give the green light for outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality to reopen, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants, on Monday 26 April (subject to public health conditions).

Indoor hospitality will remain restricted.

Dr Davies said: "We now have a tentative date of April 26 for the outdoor reopening of pubs [etc] in Wales, some two weeks after England.

"Permission for indoor opening is less certain but again looks to be a fortnight delayed compared to England.

"This approach fails to acknowledge that custom will simply shift eastwards, and will sadly make life unnecessarily difficult for struggling local business owners.

“The past 12 months have been exceptionally hard for these businesses and sadly a great many are on their knees."

Dr Davies said pubs in England are eligible for one-off grants up to £18,000 and have a roadmap to reopening.

“Here in Wales our pubs are in limbo," he added.

"The grant they thought was to last them until the end of March, they have now been told needs to last until the end of May and whilst the First Minister suggested at the weekend that pubs may be able to open outdoors in late April, a date for a full reopening indoors remains unknown.

“They need a clear roadmap out of lockdown with adequate financial support until they can reopen.

"These businesses cannot simply reopen overnight; they have staff to organise and orders to make.

"To leave them without a date to work to is unjust and will result in the demise of some."

Chelsea Jones, operations team member, at The Front Room and Late Lounge, Rhyl, said: “We need time to plan ahead but communication from the Welsh Government is poor, with no dates being provided for a reopening.

“The frustrating thing for us is seeing the help that pubs are receiving in England in comparison to what we are getting. As well as being a pub, we are also a nightclub, but we have received no grants at all for this side of the business."

“Over the past five months, we have received two NDR grants payments of £5,000 on each application. I expect from the new announcements that we should be receiving a further £5,000 in the next couple of weeks, however, this is all that has been made available.

“On March 19 it was announced that there is a new restart grant for those based in England, with eligible businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care, and gym sectors entitled to a one-off cash grant of up to £18,000 from their local council

“Pubs in England have received a significant amount of financial support throughout this pandemic compared to those in Wales. We therefore want answers as to why we aren’t receiving the same financial support as those of a similar business and rateable value in England.”

Steve Gill, landlord of the New Inn in Rhuddlan, said: “It is very frustrating that we still have not been given a date and are hearing that people have booked places in Chester. We desperately need a roadmap as there’s lots to organise. We need to have a plan so we can order everything in; there is at least a two week lead on beer and we need to let staff know when they can return.

“Throughout this pandemic, pubs in England have had far more financial support. Here it has been very hit or miss.

"We have invested over £50,000 on outdoor pods and a play area so we can better accommodate people when we reopen, but have missed out on certain grants, such as the ERF 3. We applied but then it was shut down. It has been a very challenging 12 months.”

Steve went on to praise last August’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme and suggested a similar scheme should be run later in the year, in the quieter months of October and November, to help the hospitality industry recover.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Welsh pubs are in limbo, with no clarity on when they can expect to fully reopen nor the financial support they need to continue to survive in lockdown.

“We will continue to work closely with the Welsh Government but our pubs and publicans in Wales are suffering, and cash reserves are rapidly becoming exhausted.

"If the first minister wants to prevent pubs from falling at the final hurdle, we must have more support.

"We need a clear indication with dates on when they can expect to fully reopen, as well as great increase in the level of support they are getting to ensure they can hold on.”