NEW coronavirus restrictions in Warrington look set to cause another level of confusion for residents just over the border in Tier 2 Cheshire villages.

Warrington residents are currently sitting tight ahead of an announcement from Government over when the borough, which includes areas like Stretton and Lymm, will join Tier 3.

It also comes on the day that Greater Manchester, including nearby areas in Trafford such as Altrincham, has also gained Tier 3 restrictions.

Cheshire East and West villages on the border such as High Legh, Little Bollington and Higher Whitley will remain in Tier 2 with the rest of the two boroughs.

For residents here, hopping between Cheshire, Warrington and Trafford is second nature, but Government guidance for Tier 3 areas strongly advises against travel from one place to another.

The Guardian spoke to three pubs which each sit within the Tier 2 area but are just a stone’s throw away from soon-to-be Tier 3 Warrington borough.

Melanie Craig owns the Bears Paw, around 900m from the Warrington border in High Legh, along with her husband Jason.

Northwich Guardian:

She said: “A lot of people think we are in Warrington and we are getting calls asking what is going on. We are telling them we are Cheshire East, but I think it is putting a lot of people off.

“Coming out of lockdown we had to move four tables out [for social distancing] and we have seen a drastic drop in trade – definitely.

“I think this is just another nail in the coffin – if they are going to do it they should do it for the whole area.

“People cannot get their heads around Tier 2 and Tier 3, and we do have a lot of older customers who do come from Warrington way.”

Warrington’s announcement looks set to come at a bad time for the Bears Paw, which is currently trying to set up a winter-ready outdoor seating area where customers can follow the ‘rule of six’.

Households from Tier 3 areas are not allowed to mix in beer gardens, whereas residents in Tier 2 areas like High Legh can.

Melanie said: “We are trying [to adapt] – we got a builder to do an outside space for us but he let us down, he just disappeared, and we have been left with wooden stacks and no roof. It’s been a nightmare.

“I think we do need more support – my husband deals with that side of things and he was not happy with the [Chancellor’s] announcement yesterday.”

Northwich Guardian:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a range of measures to help businesses in Tier 2 areas on Thursday, including new grants which can be backdated to August.

Ann Amphlett, who runs the Swan with Two Nicks in Little Bollington, contacted Cheshire East Council for advice on the grants today – but it was yet to have full details from the Government.

She said: “We have been very lucky – we are part of the EI Group that has supported us – but we did not qualify for any grants because our rateable value was above £51,000, which I thought was unfair.

“I have spoken to CEC about the new Job Support Scheme and grants after yesterday’s announcement and they said they knew as much as us. They advised us to keep checking the website.

“At the moment there is no help but it could be coming – and it will be very much appreciated.

“I want to keep my staff. We could reduce their hours, but its not about that – it is about keeping the lifeblood of these people, they have got homes and bills to pay.”

Little Bollington is unhelpfully sandwiched between Warrington borough and Greater Manchester, meaning the Swan With Two Nicks is hit in both directions.

Northwich Guardian:

Ann said: “The Government is advising people in Greater Manchester to stay there and while it is only advice, people are being very careful and sensible, and are sticking to it.

“We have really taken a massive hit. Today for example, we would normally be virtually full on a Friday lunchtime, but since July it has been 50 per cent and today it is 20 per cent.

“We have been taking track and trace details for people that don’t have the NHS app and we have taken down postcodes – we have had a lot of SK and M33 people, which are now Tier 3 postcodes.

“There are customers from Greater Manchester and we also get a lot of people from Lymm, so we feel very much like the Bermuda Triangle here now.”

With Little Bollington now surrounded by areas with higher restrictions, Ann believes things will become less clear for people in the area, while many people are now choosing to stay at home.

She added: “I think a lot of people are confused about what they can and cannot do.

“A lot of our customers are elderly, so some have been shielding, and with us going down to one household our bookings are now tables of two or three – no fours, fives or sixes anymore.

“I think some people are thinking that if they can only go out with their husband or wife, then what is the point?

“We are trying to do as much as we can. We have arranged for a huge-heated marquee outside for the rule of six, so at least people can be warm and shielded from the elements.”

Northwich Guardian:

One border pub that is more optimistic is the Birch and Bottle, in Higher Whitley, which sits a matter of yards away from the Warrington border in Cheshire West.

Manager Chris Friscuolo says the business is fortunate because it also has a Thai restaurant called Chang Noi – while most of its customers are from the Tier 2 area.

He said: “We just have to see what happens really. It’s a funny one because we are right in the middle of Northwich and Warrington.

“A lot of our customers are locals that are in Whitley, in Cheshire West, and to be honest some people that used to come from Warrington I haven’t seen for some time.

“Business isn’t too bad, but it could be better – there is the 10pm curfew and groups have to be from one household. Weekends are 50-50 but weekdays are quiet – it’s not consistent.

“Luckily for us we are a Thai restaurant as well, so we can push for takeaways to get extra income and keep things steady. From a financial point of view our bosses seem to be ticking over.”

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