Kate Stewart’s birthday was the day the government drove New Levels out of England.
“It’s 39, definitely not 40,” she tells us with a smile as we sit in the empty bar in Anfield, Liverpool.
Kegs of beer at The Sandon are mostly empty, while bottles of spirits have been sold out for weeks, shortly after the doors closed for a second shutdown.
You might think that Health Secretary Matt Hancock giving the gift of a Level 2 restriction instead of a Level 3 on her big day would be a cause for celebration.
But it is not.
Kate feels nauseous: “There are people here,” Wow, we’re level 2, “but that’s just kids science – we’ve all been piled up to think that’s okay but it’s still layers – it’s basically still locked up.”
“The curfew is at 10 pm and all the things you still can’t do means that it makes no difference whatsoever in my pub and my business,” she adds.
Lighter restrictions will mean that there is an opportunity for a very limited number of fans to be allowed to return to the famous football stadium which is only a short walk from Kate Bar.
On the big match day at normal times, she could charge up to £ 80,000 at the bar.
“What will it be – a few thousand [fans]? “She asks.” They will not be allowed to socialize properly … I should only have a few thousand in this pub.
“Nothing for us, unfortunately. It’s a start, but it doesn’t bring back the hundreds of people we usually employ.”
Kate adds, “I’m really happy with all those companies that can start operating again at Level 2, I really am, but that’s not a big victory for us.”
Hospitality companies across England are now working out what is happening right now, as the half-month of December opportunity is eliminated by Tier 3 restrictions.
“The download is already done here [Liverpool] “They are going to North Wales to have dinner with friends,” says Kate. “They are out of custody there and only thirty minutes left.
“Of course people go to dinner at Nando’s or whatever – loads do that.”
The Covid-19 The numbers dropped drastically in Liverpool because enough people did what was required of them. Not everyone, but enough.
Group tests have helped, too, but neighboring Knowsley has seen the same kind of cuts without military teams deploying to test people without symptoms.
There is no easy answer yet. No happy birthdays, really.
None of this will improve until a vaccine is available, Kate tells us.
“And then you have the whole argument over who will take it.”
“Subtly charming bacon junkie. Infuriatingly humble beer trailblazer. Introvert. Evil reader. Hipster-friendly creator.”