A long serving landlord of a pub is optimistic that new coronavirus curfews and restrictions should not harm the hospitality business.

Chris Pyrke, the owner of The Rifle Volunteer in Oxhey Village, has noticed that many regulars and visitors are mostly compliant and supportive of the changes made at the pub to restrict the spread of Covid-19.

As of today (September 24) pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues will have to close at 10pm and these venues will be restricted to table service – with visitors needing to wear a mask when not seated.

But the landlord believes that most people will just plan their day an hour earlier, to make the most of the restricted opening times.

Even today, The Rifle is expected to be relatively busy with several bookings as they hold a bistro night.

He said: “It is visible that customer confidence is not fully back yet, but obviously with the latest restrictions we’ll have to see what it’s like tonight.

“We’re hoping that people will come to the pub an hour earlier, that may be the case and we just don’t know yet. I think it’s possible we may see an increase of customers who aren’t fully confident, but on the other hand that could completely swing the other way.”

Since reopening on July 4 following the coronavirus lockdown, Mr Pyrke noticed that business was not impacted much by those worried of catching coronavirus.

In fact, with restrictions being lifted and imposed over the last six months – and current restrictions expected to last a further six months – Mr Pyrke believes that people’s habits when going out will change in the long term.

While most customers have been compliant and respectful to the changing rules, Mr Pyrke admitted that they had to intervene sometimes when customers are less complaint to social distancing after drinking.

He explained: “We have had a few struggles with people as the evening goes on of just relaxing maybe a little bit too much and we had to go remind them you can’t do this or that – sometimes it’s been a little bit difficult because you have to almost treat people like children a little bit.

“By in large, they’ve been okay.”

The landlord explained that anyone refusing to wear a mask when not seated will be refused service, following the new rules.

But he said: “Of course the regulation only came into force today, every customer that walked in was wearing a face mask. So far, so good.

“It still is a very strange time, I don’t think people are going to moan about the changes we make, that’s just the way of our business.”

With there being mainly no restrictions issues at the pub, Mr Pyrke said he was “delighted” with the response from regulars and the “fantastic level of support” both financially and morally.