Hawick pub boss dismisses closure rumours

Richard Conway and wife Terri are getting ready to reopen the Bourtree in Hawick next week.Richard Conway and wife Terri are getting ready to reopen the Bourtree in Hawick next week.
Richard Conway and wife Terri are getting ready to reopen the Bourtree in Hawick next week.
A bar boss has rebutted rumours that his Hawick pub will not be reopening after the current coronavirus lockdown by reassuring customers that he and his 30-plus staff are looking forward to welcoming them back.

Richard Conway, manager of the Bourtree, one of three pubs in the Borders run by Hertfordshire-based chain JD Wetherspoon-owned bar in Bourtree Place, has spoken out to dismiss misinformation circulating on social media sites that it will not open on Wednesday, July 15, after the Scottish Government’s relaxation of lockdown rules allows it to resume trading.

On the contrary, Richard says he and his staff have been working flat out to ensure the Bourtree Place bar is able to open its doors on schedule.

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Things won’t be quite the same as before it shut on Friday, March 20, ahead of the country going into lockdown as a host of measures are being put in place to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.

Richard, manager there for almost two years, said: “I was just concerned that these inaccurate comments would damage the business in the long run.

“I want to clear it up that we are opening and we are here to stay.

“There were a lot of comments that we had sacked our staff, which is just inaccurate.

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“We have 35 staff and we are bringing them all back at the end of this week, and we have a training day after that, and then we will open and literally every member of staff will be back.

“We are in here getting organised and we are ready to go.

“It is going to be as close to normal as we are going to get, and, to be honest, I can’t wait.

“I have missed having a chat with the customers, many of whom I see about on the street when I’m passing.

“There are a lot of positives, and a lot of people are looking forward to us opening up again.”

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JD Wetherspoon has drawn up plans to ensure that its staff and customers are safe before its Scottish pubs reopen, following its English ones having done so on Saturday, July 4.

Social distancing measures will result in the deployment of at least two full-time staff per pub tasked with regularly cleaning surfaces touched by customers, and there will be a screen around a till at its bar.

There will also be screens between seating areas not otherwise able to meet social distancing requirements.

Staff will be supplied with gloves, masks and protective eyewear and can elect whether to wear them or not, subject to government guidelines.

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There will also be hand sanitiser dispensers around the pub.

The Bourtree was put up for sale by Wetherspoon in April last year, along with the Cross Keys in Peebles, but both were taken off the market two months later following a change of heart by bosses at the chain.

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