THE owner of a new town centre bar in Bury, whose launch was delayed by the lockdown, doubts social distancing will happen while people are drinking.

Mick Wood, who planned to launch Sky Bar around Easter time, said he may not reopen until later in the summer even if the government gives the go ahead for pubs and bars to reopen in early July as expected.

The drinking establishment, in Kay Gardens, was granted a premises licence by Bury Council on December 4 last year and briefly opened as a bottle bar before the lockdown was enforced in March, according to Mr Wood.

But the coronavirus crisis delayed brewers from finishing off work at the bar as their staff were furloughed, preventing them from putting pumps in place.

The government’s current planning assumption is that pubs, restaurants and hotels will open no earlier than July 4 as long as they can do so safely.

Mr Wood said the bar is now ready to go – but he cast doubts over customers keeping their distance from each other once they have had a few drinks.

He said: “We’re ready to go. I would have been open for the Easter holidays.

“The bar’s huge. It’s three storeys. But you can’t socially distance in a bar when people have a drink – it’s ridiculous. Are you going to stop them from hugging?

“If that’s the case, I might not even open. We’ll have to spend a lot of money.”

Mr Wood said he will employ up to 50 people once the bar is up and running.

But while it waits to reopen, the business may struggle to stay afloat.

Sky Bar has had difficulties claiming its government grant from Bury Council.

Complications have arisen from the business not having operated for long before the lockdown was enforced and therefore not paying business rates.

Mr Wood now has a solicitor and his MP involved in his case with the council.

He said: “I’m having problems with the local rates people trying to get my government grant, which they are refusing to give me."