A CAMPAIGN chief has spoken of his concerns over the effect covid-19 will have Wrexham and Flintshire's pubs.

The Leader reported last week how pubs will be allowed to reopen - albeit only outside initially - from Monday, July 13.

Brian Vardy, chairman of the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) Chester and South Clwyd, said on the whole he fears the pandemic will have prove to have a "very negative impact" on the region's pub trade once it gets back up and running.

He said: "Pubs are absolutely vital to their communities, particularly rural ones. "They aren't just places you go for alcohol these days, they really are centres for the community. "Several pubs that we know of in our part of Wales are under threat at the moment.

"We have been publicising those which have continued to offer a service to their customers during lockdown.

"But our major concern at the moment is pub companies charging their tenants rent when they have not been able to open. "Some companies have said tenants don't have to pay during lockdown but they intend to charge pubs when they reopen.

"So not only will these pubs have fewer customers than before, due to social distancing, but they will have their current rent to pay and the pack-pay rent to deal with as well."

Mr Vardy said such situations may put pubs at risk of imminent closure, and CAMRA has been "strenuously" lobbying the companies over the matter.

Speaking of coronavirus' impact on the pub industry in Wrexham and Flintshire more widely, he said: "I think it will have a very negative impact. "I think it is likely there will be pub closures as a result - but I hope not."

He added where pubs may be forced to close down, there is a possibility they may be lost for good due to either demolition or redevelopment for new purposes such as housing.

"In England there is legislation to protect assets of community value," he said. "This gives the community a chance to buy these assets if they're put up for sale, but that legislation has not been adopted in Wales yet.

"It could be a valuable way to save some of these pubs."

In terms of how things will change going forward, Mr Vardy said he is aware of several pubs in England which do not intend to reopen at the earliest opportunity in order to avoid a "crush" when customers flock back to them for a drink.

He believes some pubs in Wales may take a similar approach. "I'd ask the public to please support their pubs when they reopen but do it responsibly and please don't all try to go on the first night, he said. "You might have to go at a different time when it's less busy, or queue outside.

"And please remember it will be a different place. There will be no more standing at the bar having a drink.

"It will be a case of sitting at a table at a safe distance and having table service."

To the pubs across Flintshire and Wrexham, Mr Vardy added: "We will continue to support you as much as we can and for those that we know are reopening - we will list them and give them publicity."