BELEAGUERED pub and bar owners in Bolton are feeling ‘pretty desperate’ as they prepare to close their doors for the third time in seven months.

Only pubs serving ‘substantial’ meals will be able to open after 00.01 on Friday, with those affected waiting to hear about financial support which has been the subject of extensive dispute among political leaders over the past week.

Rebecca Brayshaw, who operates Little Bolton Town Hall on St George’s Street said the bar would be closing until the restrictions are lifted.

She said: “It’s just not viable for us to stay open. We offer food in the bar but we’re not a restaurant and we don’t have the capability to become a restaurant. The cost of that far outweighs the benefit.

“We will be closing on Friday which is the third time for us. It’s pretty desperate right now.

“We’re waiting to hear whether we get any support and for how long.

“It’s confusing, we know we’re in tier 3 which is a step forward but it’s by no means plain sailing from here.

“Originally we had seven staff. We’ve lost three of those including bar manager. They just couldn’t afford to wait around any longer with too much uncertainly. We’ve now got a basic level of staffing of four.”

Rebecca addressed the issue of the proposed hospitality furlough, which is set to be 67 per cent of wages.

She said: “67 per cent is not enough for staff and costs. We don’t pay 67 per of our overheads.

“I’m tired of it being political. This is about people’s lives. The virus doesn’t have political allegiance. But with Andy Burnham I backed his standing as this is not just a Bolton or Manchester issue, it will become an issue for the whole of the UK.”

Rebecca added that despite the 'nightmare' of the last seven months she still had hope for the future.

She said: “Ultimately there’s a feeling of bunker down now with the hope we can salvage the business and reopen. It’s by no means shut the door and throw away the key."

Craig Egan, who runs the Nook and Cranny in Bromley Cross which will also close on Friday, said his priority was his staff. He also said he was weighing up whether to introduce a food option for the business.

He said: “I’m currently trying to sell everything we’ve got, gins and beers mainly. Then I’ll be waiting on what support packages we get before a decision on if we want to start serving food.

“This has taken a massive toll on me and the staff, stress levels through the roof, anxiety through the roof. I just want to look after my six staff and pay the rent."