Banbury Pub Watch encouraging people to come out and safely enjoy night out

27/10/20: Story and photograph courtesy of Banbury Guardian

The Banbury Pub Watch group encourages customers in town to come out for the evening prepared and understanding of the latest government Covid-19 safety rules and guidelines.

The Wine Vaults in the town centre of Banbury is a member of the Banbury Pub Watch scheme

The pub watch group, which has at least 30 bars and pubs in its membership, is a licensee run initiative to help promote safe socialising in Banbury. The Banbury Pub Watch committee meets every month to discuss the scheme and how to further support the town.

Marc Sylvester, the chair of the scheme and owner of the town centre bar Also Known As (AKA), said: “I still believe going out for an evening in Banbury can be a fun and safe endeavour.

“If our patrons are well prepared and understanding of the circumstance’s they can still have a great time without taking any unnecessary risks to their health.

“It’s about encouraging people to plan ahead. The last thing we want is a congregation of people outside. We want people to come in an organised fashion.”

Banbury Pub Watch wants to remind people they did not make the new Covid-19 safety rules issued by the government. A mask or face covering is required to go to a pub, and the pubs must now close at 10pm.

Marc said: “If you love a certain bar in town and you want them to survive then they need your patience.

“The whole idea is for people not to be shocked if they get turned away if you don’t have a mask.

“Turning up at a quarter to 10 and demanding a drink is not going fly either. We’re also getting a lot of bookings for half past nine. It just leads to disappointment.”

If customers regularly do not follow the new government guidelines and rules for Covid-19 safety then they can be nominated and placed on a ‘pub watch list.’

Marc said: “It’s a way to encourage people not to breach the guidelines.”

Someone who consistently breaches the guidelines will then receive a letter from Banbury Pub Watch group. If another breach occurs after the letter by the same customer then the customer can be banned from the membership pubs in the watch group.

Marc added: “We’re not trying to do this with a heavy hand. It’s more an encouragement, not a threat.”

Matthew Cummings Coules, director of the Gamechanger Pub Co., who runs The Wine Vaults pub, said: “We have been doing our best to follow the guidelines since the end of lockdown and had already been operating table service so that hasn’t affected us too much.

“While we have had the odd person refusing to follow the rules on the most part our patrons fully understand the difficult situation, we’re in and that everything we’re doing is for their own safety.

“Our biggest challenge is the 10pm closing. We try our absolute best to create a fun and safe atmosphere in our venues, which inherently people don’t want to leave. And so, asking everybody to leave at 10pm has been difficult from an operational standpoint as well as extremely damaging to our businesses.

“We really hope the new pub watch tariff will help people understand the severity of the situation, we don’t want to have to ban people we just want people to come out and have a fun, safe evening.”