WITH the coronavirus pandemic forcing the closure of businesses small and large, a shadow of uncertainty has been cast over the pub industry in particular.

While some have adapted to a 'new normal' ­— aided by government grants and the introduction of the furlough scheme ­— others feel they have been left in limbo.

CAMRA chairman and Cllr John Nicholson said: "From my perspective, the biggest issue is how some pubcos have been reticent to help their landlords survive.

"It's not just about beer ­— it's the social aspect that will suffer, and for some in the vulnerable class, it's the only way they get out and socialise."

"We may see many establishments never open again.

Isle of Wight County Press: John Nicholson, chairman of IW CAMRA.John Nicholson, chairman of IW CAMRA.

Among those to feel "let down" by the government is Mark Holmes, proprietor of the Chequers Inn, Rookley, The White Lion, Niton, and Long Island in Newport.

With the Chequers Inn's rateable value too high to be eligible for a grant, and Long Island too new to have been rated before March 12, Mark has been granted a mere £10,000 from The Wight Lion to cover for his three premises.

"We've unfortunately come a bit unstuck," said Mark.

"The bigger the pub, the bigger the overheads.

Isle of Wight County Press: Mark Holmes, landlord of Island pubs and a restaurant.Mark Holmes, landlord of Island pubs and a restaurant.

"It's madness. You've got places with two employees getting £25,000, and there's us with 30-plus employees getting nothing.

"That £10,000 was gone the week they told people not to go to the pub, when we lost 90 per cent of our bookings.

"All the government is saying is you can take out loans and get yourself in debt ­— and getting the loans isn't simple.

"If you don't get the grant, you have to take the hit.

"My biggest problem is all the employees feel the businesses are really being supported, but they're not.

"We have had steady winter income over the years, but what about the ones solely relying on tourism? What are they going to do?

"And even when we do resume trading, the overheads are going to be just as much. You're not going to turn on half your lights and half your gas to function at half capacity.

"We're determined to get through it, and coming up with ideas and preparing to reopen, but we need clarification.

"I feel the prime minister has to come out with a support package for the hospitality industry."

Over in Northwood, the proprietors of Travellers Joy have been making the most of the lull in custom by refitting and redecorating their premises.

"We've installed new decking and marked the outsides and insides for social distancing," said Pete Booth.

"We've reduced the seating around tables, used the surplus chairs to form barriers, and removed the stools from the bar.

"We've seen in Spain that pubs are operating at a third capacity, so with that in mind, we expect to be able to fit around 72 people."

When they get the go ahead, the pub plans to be open from 12pm to 10.30pm, with a two hour break between 3 and 5pm to clean and sanitise.

"We're blessed with doors, so we've got two dedicated to coming in, and two to coming out, so we can basically operate a one-way system," said Sam Booth.

"We've lost a lot of stock­ ­— barrels going out of date ­— and the insurance companies say coronavirus isn't an identifiable disease, so they won't cover us.

"It's frustrating, because it was the government that told us to close."

In Sandown, Julie Jones-Evans and Tracy Mikich's Boojum & Snark craft beer bar has adapted seamlessly to the transition.

"We're lucky, because our licence allows for takeaway," said Julie.

Isle of Wight County Press: Tracy Mikich and Julie Jones-Evans, of Sandown's Boojum and Snark.Tracy Mikich and Julie Jones-Evans, of Sandown's Boojum and Snark.

"We're a new business, and after seeing how successful it is in America, that was already in our mindset.

"Where we're a brewery, we're still permitted to trade, so we're trying to do the best we can.

"We're following all the government guidance, accepting contactless payment only, and for deliveries we just send a payment link.

"Technology has been a real plus."