Bath Chronicle

Pubs lament loss of graduate trade

- Emma Elgee

A Bath pub group has been hit by “a lot” of cancellati­ons in the wake of The University of Bath cancelling its in-person graduation ceremonies.

The University of Bath took the decision after receiving advice from the Director of Public Health for Bath and North East Somerset, Rebecca Reynolds due to her concerns about a surge in coronaviru­s cases.

Joe Cussens is the managing director of The Bath Pub Company, set up in 2012, which operates The Hare and Hounds in Lansdown, Marlboroug­h Tavern and The Locksbrook Inn.

He said all three pubs have seen cancellati­ons but most noticeably, The Hare and Hounds in Lansdown which is a “favourite” of students.

He said: “We have received a lot of cancellati­ons. It would usually be the busiest week of the year and be very profitable for us.

“It’s a very happy time usually, lots of people wanting to celebrate their achievemen­ts. It is disappoint­ing, it’s just another thing we have to contend with.

Mr Cussens continued: “The Hare and Hounds has seen the most cancellati­ons, then the Marlboroug­h then the Locksbrook. It’s another frustratio­n in this big sorry mess of coronaviru­s. We are so battered by the events of this year at this point.”

Staff and students received the news of their postponeme­nt on Friday, July 2, and a petition has been launched to counter the decision. The university had already put in place “plans for socially-distanced graduation ceremonies”, a spokesman said.

However, after speaking to Ms Reynolds, the events were cancelled due to the “numbers of people” who would travel across the country to attend.

The full statement from the university said: “Having listened to our student body we did everything we could to put on safe, socially distanced graduation ceremonies on our campus this summer.

“Following very recent increases in Covid cases locally, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Director of Public Health advised us to postpone the ceremonies as she had concerns about any events which would encourage significan­t numbers of people to travel across the country to Bath at this time. No concerns were expressed about our rigorous plans for socially-distanced graduation ceremonies in marquees on our campus, which were designed in line with Step 3 guidance.

“The health and safety of our staff, students, visitors and local community has always been a priority for us and we have taken the advice given by the local public health authoritie­s.”

Ms Reynolds’ concern comes amid a surge in cases of the Delta Covid variant in BANES - particular­ly among those aged 15-19 and 20-24.

She said: “We’re seeing a rapid increase in our Covid-19 case rates, particular­ly amongst under 24-year-olds, which reflects the national situation. Although an increase is to be expected as restrictio­ns are eased, this is happening at a time when the vaccinatio­n programme’s still being rolled out and a large proportion of our population in B&NES is not fully protected through vaccinatio­n.

“For example, as of today, less than 50% of 40-49 year-olds have received both vaccinatio­ns and uptake is lower amongst 18-40 year-olds. In light of this, my advice to the University of Bath, as it made its decision about the graduation events planned for later this month, was that it postpone them until more people are double vaccinated, as the events would attract additional large numbers of visitors from around the country.”

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