A LANDLADY fears the latest Covid-19 restrictions are likely to see half of England's pubs forced to close within a year.

Aimee Trigell, of the Masons Arms, in Williton, says placing pubs in Somerset and a large part of England in Tier 2 could be "a disaster".

It means customers can only use the pub if they have a "substantial meal" with their drinks.

Aimee has started a petition calling for the right to be able to fully trade, particularly as we enter the industry's normally busiest period of the year.

She said: "Tier 2 is causing a lot of uproar in pubs.

"We're already taken a massive hit with two lockdowns and having to be Covid secure.

"We'd rather be in Tier 3, then at least we'd have to shut.

"We've got to open now. But we'll only be able to have half the people in. I can only afford two members of staff and we have to do food.

"We will be opening on Wednesday, but we'll have to cut our hours down.

"We need to be able to trade so people can just come in for a drink.

"People aren't happy. We'll lose half of England's pubs by this time next year at this rate."

During the first lockdown, the Masons made meals for the community, with Aimee's partner Simon James working 65-hour weeks in the kitchen without a day off.

"We just about managed to break even," said Aimee.

"We've stuck to all the rules, but it's a struggle.

"We've got three young children, a mortgage and bills to pay. The government grant doesn't cover that.

"The hospitality industry has taken a massive hit, even though the number of cases connected to pubs is less than three per cent.

"If they're not letting us open properly, they need to ensure we've got enough money to survive.

"It's just a further decline in pubs, which are part of national life. We're being penalised.

"Being in Tier 2 could destroy everything we've all put into our businesses - years of hard work.

"This could be a disaster for the whole country.

"The hospitality industry shouldn't be punished like this. This is people's jobs, incomes, livelihoods."

More than 6,000 people have already signed Aimee's petition - you can add your name to it at www.change.org/Saveourpubs2020