A CLUB and bar owner has said he is fearful for the future of the hospitality industry despite New Year’s Eve getting the go ahead.

Landlords say the industry has been ‘decimated’ over the Christmas period and they are worried for the months ahead.

Leon Kelly, who runs Level One, L1VE and 303 Drinkery in Darwen, has said that although he is happy the businesses can open on New Year’s Eve, he does not think he should be thankful to the Government for allowing him to open.

Mr Kelly said: “We shouldn’t say thank you for allowing us to open on New Year’s Eve – what about the damage that has already been done.”

He said that, even though the businesses have been able to remain open over Christmas, the requirement for Covid passports after 1am, the new Omicron variant and people isolating due to positive tests have seen them suffer huge drops in footfall.

Mr Kelly added: “My concern is – what do they do to us in January?

“I’m not being ungrateful in any way that we can open but the damage has already been done.

“I have been in the industry 12 years and this is the worst Christmas I have ever seen.

“It’s been a very uncertain Christmas. Venues have been decimated in comparison to where they thought they would be.”

In Blackburn, the Clifton Arms has not been as busy as it normally would be over the Christmas period and, like other local pubs, landlady Carole Davis has decided to run a ticketed event on New Year’s Eve.

She said people are buying tickets but she is concerned, given her levels of stock, about what the night and the new year could bring.

She said: “It’s steady enough – it is what it is. There is nothing I can do about it as much as I wish I could.

“I just have to take what I can and just look after those who want me to do that.

“I am worried about what might happen, there are different things Boris Johnson can do.

“We just need clarification on what we can do. I have quite a lot of my Christmas order and I have a new year’s order arriving. It’s just not knowing what is happening.”

Mark Nuttall, known in Lancashire as Mark Freejack, owns Bartley’s bar on Berry Lane in Longridge, and was previously a DJ on Rock FM and in Tokyo Jo’s and Evoque in Preston.

The dad-of-three from Ribchester is hosting a New Year’s Eve event at his bar and has said that just breaking-even would be a miracle.

He said: “I am not even hoping – I am praying that we do okay.

“If we break-even it will be a miracle.

“If we are busy it will be amazing but it will just be paying for the quiet days.

“I have been in this job 33 years and, as a DJ, I’m glad I am not relying on it anymore.

“As a bar owner for the past 10 or 12 years this is the worst year ever of trading I have experienced.”

Mark said that this year is even worse than last year as the grants helped to pay the bills whereas this year, the takings are not covering the full bills.

He added: “I have had this bar for 18 months and I still haven’t made a penny from it.”

Currently, the Government has not confirmed whether there will be any new restrictions imposed in the new year.

The Prime Minister is encouraging punters to enjoy New Year’s Eve in a “cautious and sensible way” by taking a lateral flow test – however due to a high demand, these are currently difficult to come by.