PUBS in Wrexham and Flintshire have slammed the Welsh Government's latest restrictions on the hospitality industry.

On Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that from Friday Welsh pubs and restaurants will be banned from serving alcohol, at which time they will also have to close to customers.

To compound matters for pubs in Flintshire and Wrexham, it was announced on Thursday that Welsh residents can travel over the border to Tier 1 and 2 places in England, with Chester, for example, being a Tier 2 area.

And the Leader spoke to some of the local pubs to get their reaction to the news.

Steve Saxon is manager of the Red Lion in Penyffordd - which throughout the pandemic has gone above and beyond to act as a community hub.

It supplied free meals for NHS staff and will provide a free Christmas lunch for local pensioners - to name just two of its charitable acts.

Mr Saxon described the latest restrictions on the Welsh hospitality industry as a "complete and utter joke" that "makes no sense".

Addressing the First Minister, Mr Saxon said: "The fact that you have been allowed, encouraged even, to do this is sickening.

"The only reason that you have done this is to avoid having to pay support to the Welsh pubs because ‘technically’ you haven’t taken away our livelihoods by allowing the premises to remain open whilst putting a restriction on the goods that we sell.

"To add further insult to injury you allow us to travel to Tier 1 and Tier 2 regions of England, which for my local area is 5 miles away in Chester.

"‘Don’t drink in Wales to save lives ... but travel to England for a pint and chips instead’ is what you are basically saying.

"Taking away from the Welsh economy at a detrimental time of year and handing it to the English economy. Encouraging Welsh residents to stay over night at family and friends houses in England so that they can enjoy a festive drink."

Mr Saxon describes Mr Drakeford's government as "out of touch, inconsistent and bordering the realms of dictatorship".

He added: "I truly hope that the majority, if not entirety, of Wales casts a vote of no confidence against you as quickly as possible before you bring us to our knees to the point where many will not be able to pick themselves back up again."

John Appleby is licensee of the Saltney Ferry pub - which lies just a couple of miles away from the England-Wales border, and is closing its doors for two weeks from Friday.

He said: "The Welsh Government has been very harsh on us [the hospitality industry]. The infection rates in North Wales are much lower than they are in south and yet we're all being punished.

"There should have been something more localised, rather than blanket restrictions for the whole country.

"I can't see what the difference is between going to have a meal and going out to have a pint.

"We're closing on Friday as it costs more for us to stay open than the money we'd make. We don't serve meals so there's no point in remaining open.

"I'd like to see some concessions made to us, for example we're paying a huge amount of money for a licence to show live sport - but if there's only a handful of people in here it's not making it worthwhile.

"Since the pandemic hit, we've been down to a maximum of 45 customers in at any one time - we used to get about 100 in.

"And we're a big pub, for smaller pubs I dread to think how badly they've been affected.

"I really feel that following the latest restirctions a lot of pubs won't reopen."

The Nags Head in Lavister sits on the Welsh side of border - which it is just a few hundred meters away from.

Paul Burnett, the pub's manager, said: "The Grosvenor is just down the road on the English side of the border - so all our custom is going to go there.

"We do serve food, but for a lot of people there's a massive difference between having a pint with your meal and not.

"For that reason we don't see any point in staying open so we're closing on Friday.

"But I'm not even sure if I'm going to be able to furlough my staff based on the fact that we're allowed to be open.

"We've spent about £6,000 on measures to ensure we're adhering to all the Covid regulations, and this latest announcement just seems like another slap in the face."

Mr Burnett added: "Drakeford's T Total and I think that impacts on his decision making. He seems to be making decisions based on his own perspective about things, and not from the perspective of the hundreds of thousands of people who pubs are a vital place for their mental health.

"Tiered restrictions, like in England, would have been much more suitable as infection rates in North Wales are so much lower than the south.

"So many pubs are hanging by a thread - and this has just made things even harder."

The Leader: Golden Lion, Rossett.Golden Lion, Rossett.

Allan Parrington, manager of the Golden Lion in Rossett, said: "The lack of synergy between England and Wales had obviously exacerbated the issue, but the thought of next week watching buses of my locals and regular diners pass by on the way to Chester is a cruel one.

"The main issue for me however is the cowardice of the government. Clearly, from statements made by all the scientists the five days of ‘do what you want’ is going to cause a surge in cases.

"Instead of a policy of a bubble that ensured no one is alone at Christmas as this itself is dangerous for our mental health, the First Minister has chosen to kick the dog again to look proactive, as surely, if serving a lager in a pub is a danger to the public health during this crisis, then just how deadly will the festive policy be?

"Therefore this has not been led by the science, but by politics, and therefore Drakeford and his cabinet have lied to the public.

"One way or the other their logic is flawed. We will adapt and work to survive as this is all we can do, but this is like ‘yes minister’ as Drakeford only appears to say he is standing behind us in order to stab us in the back."