Pub landlords in Wales look set to have their New Year's Eve profits "killed" as punters plan to pour into England for celebrations free of restrictions.

Thousands of people are expected to escape to England on Friday night to avoid coronavirus restrictions imposed by First Ministers Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

Chelly Jones, who runs the Stanton House Inn in Chirk, Wrexham, with her husband, said she has cancelled the live entertainment they had planned for New Year's Eve because of the new rules.

Mrs Jones, whose pub is less than half a mile from the Wales/England border, told the PA news agency: "Christmas has been a disaster, we've never had a year like it.

"The week before Christmas, the new restrictions in Wales killed our profits. They kept us open, but shut us really. We're a family-run pub so it's very difficult at the moment."

"It's most definitely because of the different restrictions in England than in Wales," she added.

"There's a pub just across from us who are able to do whatever they want on New Year's Eve. If people want to go party they only have to walk a mile up the road."

Mrs Jones said people in Wales feel they are "fighting a losing battle" because punters crossing the border for celebrations could return with coronavirus, negating the efforts of people following restrictions.

Sarah Lindop, the Licensee of the Corner Pin in Saltney, which is only just on the Welsh side of the border in Flintshire, thinks that England and Wales should have come together when deciding on restrictions on businesses.

She said: “It’s not just about New Year to be honest, what (the Welsh Government) did on Boxing Day is the killer because New Year and Boxing Day are the two days we can make money for January, our lead month, so it’s destroyed it.

“Everybody that would have been coming here are only going to go into Chester and drink and party and our pub’s just going to be quiet.

“If anything, (Mark Drakeford has) caused more of a chance for the pandemic to be brought back into Wales because everybody is going to be socialising and then once New Year’s over they’ll be coming back into our pubs and they’ll be bring any viruses in that they’ve picked up there."

Meanwhile, pubs in England are preparing for a potential flood of customers.

Justin Realff, landlord of the Grosvenor Arms in Aldford, near Chester, which is half a mile away from the Welsh border, said numbers may have to be restricted on New Year's Eve if too many people turn up.

He told PA: "We will have to be careful because we don't want to get too packed, we'll make sure we've got lots of air going through, but it will be good for business.

"We're making sure there's enough space and making sure people come through one entrance and we might have to restrict numbers at some point."

Asked whether he expects people will queue outside, he said "possibly".

In Wales nightclubs remain closed under the guidance, but pubs and restaurants continue to operate with some restrictions in place.

Measures put in place in Wales from December 26:

  • 2m social distancing in all premises which are open to the public, including hospitality
  • Rule of six applies to gatherings in regulated premises such as hospitality venues
  • All licensed premises need to take additional measures to protect customers and staff, including table service and collecting contact details.
  • Face coverings are required in hospitality settings at all times apart from when seated (unless you have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering)
  • The new rules also see the return of Track and Trace as mandatory.

Scotland's Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, has urged people not to cross the border to take advantage of looser Covid-19 restrictions in England.

Mr Swinney accepted that, while it is legally permitted for people to travel to England to take part in celebrations there, this would not be in "the spirit of the rules we are putting forward".