A BAR boss says he will keep his venue closed due to coronavirus restrictions on hospitality businesses. New rules which came into effect yesterday mean pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 10pm and offer table service only.

Chris Winstanley opened The Old Con Club bar and restaurant at the end of August, in what was previously Malvern Radio in Church Street, but said he would be "keeping the doors closed for a while 'til things blow over'."

However, Chris Morgan, who runs L'Amuse Bouche restaurant at the Cotford Hotel, said he welcomed the stricter restrictions and didn't think Malvern eateries would be badly affected.

Mr Winstanley said the first couple of weeks after re-opening were good, but the third weekend was “completely empty”. “We started off quite well but on the third weekend of being open they announced the new “rule of six” and by 8pm the town was completely empty.” said Mr Winstanley

“I’ve decided for the time being we’ll just open when it makes sense, for example, when restrictions are loosened, which doesn’t look like soon, or when there’s a specific event worth opening for, for example the switching on of the Christmas lights or late night town centre shopping co-ordinated by the council.

“On a positive note, whilst we’ve been open I’ve had dozens of people ask me about events we’ll be putting on when we’re allowed and there’s a huge appetite for it in Malvern.”

Mr Morgan, who runs the L'Amuse Bouche with his wife Barbara, said he welcomed the stricter restrictions as “something needed to be done” to curb the rise in Covid cases. He said: “We opened back on July 4 and since then it has gone really well. I don’t think the 10pm restriction will affect Malvern too much as it doesn’t tend to see too many people dining out late. Most people eat out at around 7.30 or 8 o’clock so it shouldn’t have too much of an effect. “Something needed to be done, the government sent out a strong message to those who were meeting in large groups and needed to tow the line. “I think the new rules will have more of an effect in Worcester than in Malvern as there are more people out late there compared to Malvern, where we are lucky we don’t have a huge wandering capacity.”

Mr Morgan explained how his restaurant has been using screens to divide diners as well as social distancing and sanitisation since it re-opened, meaning there were not too many difficulties thrown up by the new rules. Another popular Malvern drinking spot, the Nags Head, urged regulars to stick to the new restrictions. A spokesman said: “We are now to close at 10pm. Time will be rang at 9pm. Please be aware that the pub and all outside areas need to be cleared by 10pm.”

The spokesman also said face masks must be worn by patrons when entering the pub and when not seated. Track and trace details must also be given on arrival. Under the new government guidance, businesses will have to ensure social distancing is taking place and fines of £1,000 could be levied against hospitality venues if they fail to comply.

In addition, they also need to keep music to low levels to deter people from shouting, which increases the risk of transmission. Venues where people meet socially, such as pubs and restaurants, will be legally required to request contact details of every member of a party and retain the information for 21 days.