PUB landlords have raised concerns after a court case ruled pubs could not reopen indoors sooner than the proposed date.

The High Court ruled pubs must still reopen for inside drinking and dining on May 17.

Hospitality bosses had hoped that date could’ve been brought forward to support pubs and restaurants.

The outcome of the case comes while blustery weather conditions attack West Oxfordshire pubs, impacting spaces created for outdoor drinking and putting off customers from venturing out.

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Steve Thompson, landlord at The Angel Inn, said: “We’ve been following the court case closely and hoped a bit of sense might come out of it.

“When you think you can go the gymnasium and have your mask off panting, it feels like we’ve been demonised almost.

“We’ve proven in the other lockdowns that we know what we’re doing.”

While the case did not provide the result the hospitality industry sought, Mr Thompson said the Market Square pub had still seen a positive first three weeks since reopening on April 12.

Outdoor dining and drinking at The Angel Inn, Witney. Picture: The Angel Inn

“It’s been very good – I’ve been amazed at how resilient the great British public has been,” he said.

“Considering there was half an inch of snow on the first morning we could reopen, it’s been quite busy since.

“Having been open and had some half decent weather, it makes you persist with it but the forecasts haven’t been great recently.”

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Meanwhile, Dane Knight, landlord at The Lord Kitchener in Curbridge Road, said he felt the hospitality sector needed more support.

He said: “The Government has given funds which we’re very grateful for, but we needed more representation.

“After all, we’re the people that employ the staff in what is supposedly the third biggest industry in England.

“Most pubs are very safe places and I’m as frustrated as all the other landlords are.”

The outdoor marquee at The Lord Kitchener in Witney. Picture: The Lord Kitchener

The outdoor marquee at The Lord Kitchener in Witney. Picture: The Lord Kitchener

Mr Knight also referenced the fact pubs and restaurants in Scotland can open indoors until 8pm – although alcohol can only be served to those drinking outside.

He said: “Our customers are here to dine and drink, and in Scotland they’re letting people eat in the pub but drink outside – here you can’t do that.”

He continued: “It’s been interesting so far – everything is so different and unpredictable.

“Our regulars are coming in for drinks and the first week was great.

“Then the second one it went down a bit, but the third week was a disaster with the weather.”

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Sam Jenkins, operations manager at The Horseshoes in Corn Street, said the court case was ‘disappointing’ but noted that pubs continue to have a public health responsibility.

“We’ve gone above and beyond to make sure everything is safe – and while we’re doing well with trade, we’re not firing on all cylinders,” he said.

“It’s disappointing but we understand our responsibilities.”

Drinkers at The Horseshoes in Witney. Picture: The Horseshoes

Drinkers at The Horseshoes in Witney. Picture: The Horseshoes

Mr Jenkins said business in the last three weeks had gone well though.

“On the whole it has been very positive with a lot of support from the town and community, including faces we’ve never seen before, which is really good,” he said.

“Bookings have been really promising and been pretty sold out for weekends.

“The next step is to get back open indoors, which is what we do best.”