Covid left couple’s dream bar in Benidorm for just £ 20 a day
A BRIT couple have shared how they have only £ 20 a day left to earn as the Covid pandemic has pushed their beloved Benidorm bar to the brink – but now they can’t wait to welcome drinkers again.
When Diane Charlesworth and Lee Martin opened their dream bar in February last year, they had no idea the world was about to be hit by the deadly Covid pandemic.
?? Read our live coronavirus blog for the latest updates
Weeks later, Diane, a former specialist teaching assistant, was forced to close the doors of the Winnies Café Bar as Spain entered a strict lockdown marking the start of months of unrest.
With less than a month open before they had to stack tables again, it was a tough road for Diane and Lee – sometimes taking as little as 20 euros a day if they were lucky enough to have clients.
But after a “soul-destroying year”, the good news that Spain will reopen its borders from June has left Diane ready to welcome British holidaymakers “with open arms” again.
Spanish resorts received a lifeline as Tourism Minister Fernando Valdes Verelst revealed he was in talks with the UK over digital vaccination certificates – while confirming the country will once again host the British from June.
And meanwhile, there has been another boost to the holidays, as EU leaders have revealed that even Britons who had not received the vaccine could be welcome, as border rules are relaxed. in states with low infection rates.
“It’s been almost 18 months of the pandemic so any positivity is good and we will welcome British holidaymakers with open arms,” said the 56-year-old, who runs the bar at Avenida Murcia, known locally as by Yellow. Brick Road because of the way it winds up to the famous Levante Beach in Benidorm.
We’re just trying to survive
“I would break my back to be open seven days a week. I want to make hay while the sun is shining.
“We’re so safe here because there have been so many restrictions on social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing.”
Diane opened Winnies on February 8 last year with her partner Lee, 53, before closing on March 12 along with hundreds of other bars, restaurants and hotels in one of Spain’s most popular resorts on the sunny Costa Blanca.
“We’re all financially exhausted so hopefully that happens in June,” added the grandmother of four, who lived in Wakefield before moving to Spain four and a half years ago.
“My bar is currently open four days a week and on three of those days I can sit eight hours a day without customers which has been soul destroying.
“Right now we’re just trying to survive. I invested in this bar last year and opened on February 8th but had to close again on March 12th so things have been tough.
“I serve fresh food, so I buy ingredients and prepare them, but most of the time they come home with me.
“I started making Sunday roasts last week, but no one showed up. At the end of the day, a local woman came to buy two roasts to go and I won 20 euros.
“I was so glad it at least covered the cost of my veg.”
The huge challenges of the past year have not cooled Diane’s mind, however, and she is keen to do all she can to keep things going at Winnies, who is named after her beloved mother-in-law. died about 15 years ago as a result of battle. with cancer.
She added: “I always smile because I live in a beautiful country and have a beautiful bar, so I know when the borders reopen and the flights arrive, we will be busy.”
Diane and her partner Lee are always thinking about new ways to keep customers happy and this week kicked off a Bullseye event at Winnies, with the chance to win beer tokens.
The couple also have a full-scale barbecue that they use for dedicated barbecue and burger days, and recently celebrated St. George’s by giving punters a free pint with their food.
“Not a day goes by without thinking about Covid and we hope and pray every day that there is a change,” added Diane, whose son Kev runs his own restaurant in the nearby town of Altea.
“So far there haven’t been any Britons in Benidorm, so hopefully things start again in June, as we looked at September or October before we even saw a little light shine.
“The few people who came back who are residents, we were just so happy to see them.
“The cash flow is low, but I will never give up – the sun has kept me going. “
While Spain hit highs of 34,000 new daily Covid cases in January, the incidence has now fallen to around 8,000 new cases per day and 88 deaths nationwide on Wednesday.
In Benidorm itself, there have only been 27 positive Covid tests in the past fortnight, or around 39 per 100,000 of the population.
Diane added that more clarity was needed on whether PCR testing would still be needed after the borders reopened, but welcomed the announcement of easing restrictions.
“This is very good news, but we need some clarity on the PCR testing side, and whether this will be lifted as the restrictions are lifted, as the cost of testing is high for vacationers,” he said. she declared.
“It’s good if the borders open up, but it’s if people have the money to pay for PCR tests on top of their vacation expenses.
“People are desperate to come to the sun, so we need some clarity on that.”
It comes as bar owners pledge that Brits will have the ‘best summer ever’ if all goes and the borders reopen between the UK and Spain – promising pints from from just £ 1.30.
Corner Bar owner Ashley Price said he was “delighted and delighted to hear the news of the border reopening”.
“Benidorm was so vibrant before the pandemic and the local bar owners have stood their ground because they know that when the going comes back this city will be better than it has ever been before,” he said at Sun Online.
“We’re two hours from a flight from the UK, you get a pint for 1.50 euros, the weather is nice.
“When vacationers return, this metropolis will come back with a vengeance. “
In Benidorm, a million euro investment is giving a facelift to a 300m stretch of iconic Calle Mallorca, lined with the city’s lively bars, nightclubs and hotels.
“June will mark the start of the recovery of tourism in Spain,” Tourism Minister Verelst told a conference in Mexico last week.
“By then we will have a digital vaccination certificate in place and we can reopen our borders.”
“We are having close conversations with the British authorities and we are exchanging information on the Spanish digital system and the trial taking place at our airports in May.”
The region has been busy preparing for an influx of holidaymakers by investing millions in modernizing hotels, apartments and services to give Britons an unforgettable summer after so long locked up.
While overseas vacations have yet to receive an official start date from the UK government, it is hoped that the ban on overseas travel can be lifted from May 17.
Boris Johnson is still thinking about his travel ‘green list’ – and it is likely that major holiday destinations, including Spain and Greece, will not be on the first round of changes just yet.
The Prime Minister said today that his approach to overseas travel this summer will be reasonable and cautious to avoid “an influx of disease”.