Blue Bell shuts again, as ‘upset, angry’ landlord responds to Tier 2 restrictions

The safe socialising sign on the door of the Blue Bell. Photograph: Richard McDougall
16 Oct 2020 @ 12.21 pm
| Business

The Tier 2 restrictions have left the ‘upset, angry’ landlord of one of York’s best-loved pubs having to close again.

The Blue Bell Inn on Fossgate will be closed again from tonight, publican John Pybus announced this lunchtime (Friday).

As York’s smallest pub, it has always been hit harder than most by the social distancing rules.

It didn’t reopen after the March lockdown till 15 August, when some furniture was cleared out of the two small public rooms, and a seating area on the pavement set out.

Now the Blue Bell is shutting its doors as York is placed under the tougher Tier 2 restrictions after midnight.

But, John said, it will be back.

Today, he said on Facebook: “With a heavy heart I’ll be closing the Blue Bell tonight.

A top spot: the Blue Bell. Photograph: Richard McDougall

“We will figure out a way to trade under Tier 2 restrictions but it may take some time.

“More details to follow from a clearer, less upset, less angry perspective. Today’s for pints.

“Thank you to every one of you who has continued to support us – we’ll drink together again soon, I promise.”

Losing money

Last month, when the 10pm curfew was announced, John went on the national news to reveal how hard it would hit publicans like him.

He told Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Two that he was losing money after his capacity was cut from 65 people to just 20.

“It’s devastating news, to be honest. We have a capacity in the Blue Bell of 65 people,” he said.

Landlord John Pybus outside his pub the Blue Bell

“With the social distancing measures that capacity was reduced to 20 people. Over the last three weeks, we haven’t been able to turn a profit.

“We’ve been losing money every week, even though we’ve been filling the pub up to that 20 people.”

It comes two years after people power stepped in and saved the day after John was threatened with eviction by the pub’s owner Punch Taverns.

News that he had to shut again after Friday elicited great sympathy from lovers of the Blue Bell.

Sheena Valentine summed up the feelings of everyone, saying: “So sorry John, my favourite pub of all time, as you know. I so hope you manage to come out of this and survive.”