EAST Lancashire pubs and restaurants are defiant that they are still ‘open for business’ despite Boris Johnson’s calls for people to avoid socialising.

On Monday night, the Prime Minister said there was a need for ‘drastic action’ and the UK should avoid pubs, clubs and theatres.

Despite the concerns, Gareth Ostick from the White Swan in Fence, which is ranked as one of the top gastropubs in the country, said as people were only being advised to avoid gatherings the situation was confusing.

He said: “We feel let down by the governments lack of clarity which has put the whole of the hospitality industry in turmoil.

“We need to know what the government is going to do to help not just us but the whole industry.

“As for us, we will be open for business until we are told to shut, we have put special measures in place and are following national guidelines with regards to hygiene.

“We hope that people will support us but completely understand if not as this situation is unprecedented.”

Meanwhile, bosses at The Freemasons at Wiswell, which was number three in the top 50 gastropubs nationally, have also updated their customers.

Steven Smith said that for the time being they ‘are still open for business’.

He added: “The wellbeing of our staff and our customers is paramount and we want to reassure you that all possible precautions and safety measures have been put in place.

“We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will continue to react accordingly.

“If you want to join us for lunch, dinner or a pint at the bar, we are still open and have some wonderful Spring produce now available.

“Alternatively, if you would like to support us in a different way, gift vouchers are available and can be used at a later date for both dining and our accommodation.

“We wish you all well in these uncertain times and thank you as ever for your unwavering support.”

Lance Montgomery, landlord of the Anchor pub, in Blackburn Road, Darwen, said it is “stiff upper lip time” for the hospitality industry.

He said: “We have got concerns and it’s not an ideal situation that we would want to find ourselves in but if that’s what’s got to happen, that’s what’s got to happen.

“Everyone has got to do their bit and make sure they follow the appropriate guidance.

“But as business owners we are not very happy. There’s no sports on telly and all the pub league games are starting to shut down and these are cornerstones of the business.

“If we do shut down I’m planning to do some jobs that I can’t do when it’s open and in true British grit style we will keep on going.

“I’m not happy to hear about Monday’s guidance but we do understand. I have got three kids and relatives that are in the danger bracket of 70 plus so I do understand why it’s being said.”

He also raised concerns about insurance companies refusing to pay out to pubs and other businesses as closures have not been enforced by the Government.

He added: “You pay your insurance so that we are covered for these eventualities but on a technicality I suppose the insurance companies are right.

“However were have just had a busy weekend and the Great British public won’t be told, so we will see what happens.”