Popular Welsh bar chain Bar 44 has announced they are closing all their Welsh venues indefinitely.
Owner Owen Morgan said with a “heavy heart” that they are closing all of their Welsh-based sites from 6pm on Friday, following First Minister Mark Drakeford’s ban on selling alcohol in pubs and restaurants.
The closure includes Bar 44 and Asador 44 in the capital, and their venues in Cowbridge and Penarth. Their online store will remain open.
New rules mean that all cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close at 6pm and cannot sell alcohol at any time as part of new measures to try and slow the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement on Twitter, Owen said that their venues simply weren’t viable if they couldn’t sell alcohol.
He said: “It’s with a heavy heard that we have to shut all our Welsh based sites this Friday at 6pm. Bristol will also continue to be shut because it is entering England’s tier 3.
“We are not sure when we will be allowed to reopen again. We have spent the last three days analysing all scenarios, taking into account what we are and aren’t allowed to do.
“Ultimately, it comes down to an economic decision to try and safeguard the future of our company, our immense team, our families.
“We haven’t put 20 years of our blood, sweat and tears into this – to let it go now. We have so much more to do, with goals and aspirations undampened. We need to be here on the other side.
“With Covid continuing to force new and increasingly difficult trading restrictions upon us, the only correct option for us is to go back into hibernation.”
He added: “Alcohol sales account for 50% of our revenue, and we would still need to service the restaurants with the same number of chefs and front of house staff. Our capcity is also down 40% due to the 2 metre distancing in Wales that still applies.
“Therefore if we continued to trade, it would be irresponsible for us as leaders to put ourselves into an unviable business situation. We would be haemorrhaging more money that we don’t have.”
He said that “99% of the hospitality industry is on its knees and on the edge”.
Bar 44 encouraged customers to visit their online shop which they “will once again switch all efforts and focus into”.
It said: “No matter what life throws at us past, present or future, we are determined to meet it head on. We wish everyone the absolute best Christmas possible.
“Be kind to all, make a difference to people, no matter what the circumstances.”