The coronavirus has given pub landlord Tim Bowring his biggest challenge in a quarter of a century.

As Mr Bowring prepares to mark 25 years running The Plough at Wolvercote, he is continuing to face the challenges the pandemic is presenting the trade as lockdown eases. 

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“It’s definitely our toughest time in a quarter of a century,” said Mr Bowring. “We have taken on more staff because we now need to run the pub in a different way to make sure it is safe with social distancing.”

Mr Bowring runs the pub on The Green with his wife Kim and his daughter Katie.

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Tim Bowring and wife Kim

He added: “I think I’m the longest serving pub landlord in Oxford after arriving here back in the mid-nineties.

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“Greene King have been very good, very supportive I can’t fault them - they have discounted the rent and made sure we are up to date with the payment plan.

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“So far so good and we’ll have to see what happens next - we are keeping positive.”

Mr Bowring said he hoped more locals - more regulars - would return soon.

He added: “A lot of our regulars are quite elderly and they would come in at lunchtimes for a meal but some of them have not come back yet - I think some of them are frightened to because of the coronavirus

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“We do have some outdoor space and we are getting trade from the hotels and the canal.

“We do fish and chips and traditional pub food and the customers like it. “We have to remember that it’s quite a busy area for pubs - there are four other pubs in a 20-minute walk so there’s competition.”

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Mr Bowring said staff have taken all the necessary steps to ensure customers feel safe when they come in.

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He added: “Our trade is weather-driven - we have a good front patio on the green and we are very busy at weekends - Friday, Saturday Sunday - I think we are very reasonably priced.”

Customers have gone on Facebook to say they feel safe at the pub and have enjoyed the food.

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One drinker wrote: “We called in yesterday - it was our first real outing since March and we thought we would take a look and if OK have a quick drink.

“The tables were all well spaced out and cleaned after each use. We were intending to only have one drink but ended up having several and the best fish and chip I have for a long time. The staff all wore face visors and were very friendly and efficient. We both felt very comfortable and had a great time. Will be back soon.”

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Mr Bowring added: “Staff are wearing PPE and we are fully track and trace. “We are taking bookings for inside but you can still turn up on the day.

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“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has made Tuesday and Wednesday busy this month.”