Derby During Covid


Around December 2019, reports started to appear on UK television about a Coronia virus named Covid-19. By March 2020 the virus had well and truely got to the UK and so Derby found itself in a pandemic. This page aims to give information on how the Covid pandemic affected Derby's breweries, pubs and clubs.

If you have any material you would like to contribute to this website, please email on contact the pubs officer for Derby CAMRA.


During the pandemic a number of terms started to be used in common language and it is worth listing these to help understanding of the material on this page. Note that this is a simplified explanation relevant for Derby but the restrictions were frequently reviewed during the pandemic.

  • Bubble - from 13 June it was permitted for one adult to link with another household for the purpose of gatherings. This was termed a bubble. The rules on bubbles remained largely the same throughout the pandemic.
  • Lockdown - people were told to stay at home except for essential needs. This included work, essential shopping and exercise.
  • Face Masks - it was advised that where a social distance of 2m or greater could not be maintained, people should wear a face mask. This became mandatory on public transport and inside public buildings. In general anything covering the mouth and nose was adequate.
  • Furlough - from the start of Loackdown 1, the government paid a furlough scheme where people who could not work due to the pandemic were paid 80% of their wages.
  • Social Distancing - in order to stop infection people were told to maintain a distance from other people. Initally this was set to 2m.
  • Tier - to attempt to allow as normal as possible life but restrict outbreaks, on 12 October the country was split into Tiers. Initally 1 to 3 with 3 being the most severe a fourth Tier was later added. The rueles did change over the pandemic.
    • Tier 1 - pubs, clubs and resturants may open but must practice Social Distancing. Table service only. Masks to be work when moving around the pub.
    • Tier 2 - pubs, clubs and restaurants may open but alcohol can only be served with a substancial meal.
    • Tier 3 - pub, clubs and resturants to close. Takeaway services allowed including collection.
  • Track and Trace - in order to trace infections a track and trace system was introduced. This took several forms with establishments keeping their own lists to the NHS mobile phone based track and trace system.

Lockdown 1

As the virus took hold and the NHS were starting to become saturated, the Government ordered a Lockdown on the 20th March 2020, which meant all but essential services must close. This meant that all pubs and clubs in the Derby area closed. Takeaway food is allowed but not alcohol. For the drinker this lasted until 4th July, though restrictions had been eased in other areas before. During this time CAMRA launched the national Pulling Together campaign with servral initiatives to help the drinkers and the inductry. This included the Brew2You service, where anyone offering services could resgister on a national system for almost no cost.

Social Distancing

On the 4th July with falling infection rates, mortality rates and hospital admissions, the UK Government allowed English pubs to reopen but with restrictions. The restrictions principaly centered around social distancing and sanitising.
A majority of pubs opened on th 4th July but with severe restrictons in capacity. The Social Distance had been reduced to 1m inside pubs bu this meant that many pubs had to spread out table more thinly and erect barriers between tables. A lot of pubs started a reservation service where people could book a table, usually for 2 or 3 hours.
Derby's three Wetherspoon pubs; Babington Arms, Standing Order and Thomas Leaper all opened for breakfast at 8am and the local news reported queues outside. All pubs installed sanitsation stations at the entrance where people could disinfect their hands before entering. Some also measured the temperature of people entering to check for any Covid symptoms. The punters were also asked to leave contact details for the track and trace, though this was not compulsary at the time.

A particular problem was Micor-pubs who, due to their physical size, could not realistically offer Social Distancing. The Last Post in Derby and the Chip and Pin in Melbourne decided not to open. Not in the Derby area but illustrating the problem was the Kings Ditch in Tamworth who installed plastic transparant curtains between tables. This seemed odd at first sight but actually quite acceptable once seated. Back to Derby the Little Chester Alehouse did open but quite a way into this period.

On the 24th September it was announced that all pubs, clubs and restaurants must close at 10pm. Many older drinkers felt a tinge of nostalger to the days of the last orders bell and the 11pm time call.

Tier 1

On the 15th October Derby entered Tier 1. This was not so bad for the drinker since the main difference was that people must stay seated as much as possible. This meant that table service was introduced in pubs, but the downside was increased staffing costs for the pubs.
The Furnace Inn managed to have a light-v-dark Beer festival at the end of October all with table service.

Lockdown 2

On 31st October another England-wide lockdown was announced. This differed from the first Lockdown for beer drinkers in the takeaways sales including alcohol were allowed.

Tier 3

On the 2nd December 2020, the Derby area entered Tier 3 which meant all pubs, clubs and restaurants were ordered to close. Takeaway services including alcohol was allowed, so the feel was not any different to Lockdown 2.

Lockdown 3

With infection rates continuing to rise again nationally and the emergence of new varients, on the 4th January Derby entered the third Lockdown along with the rest of the UK.
This was more severe than all previous restrictions in that all pubs and clubs were ordered to close but this time alcohol sales could only be made by delivery. A majority of pubs, clubs and restaurants decided to close up and sit it out. The government furlough scheme had been extended and January is a typically quiet month for the pub trade. The Alexandra Hotel, Brunswick and Smithfield all offered a dazzling array of real ale delivered to peoples houses.
I remember waiting for the beer list for the Smithfield to be published on a Wednesday so I could top-up my fridge. The Smithfield did not deliver on Monday and Tuesday, so I had usually run out. The shelves in my fridge had been adapted to hold the two-pint plastic containers filled with the products of microbreweries - M. Fletcher.
The local breweries also took part in the delivery service with Muirhouse delivering 9-pint boxes of beer.

Roadmap Step 2

The Government produced a Roadmap of how restrictions from Lockdown 3 will be removed, which consisted of four steps. Dates were given with the warning that should things start to escallate the dates will be moved. For Derby Drinkers the first important step was step 2 on 12th April 2021 when pubs were allowed to open their outside areas. Around a third of pubs opened many showing innovation in dealing with the restrictions. The Brunswick Inn added more outside seating in Calvert Street. Next door, the Alexandra Hotel devoted half their car park to outside seating, amusingly providing more seating than is available inside. The Smithfield also devoted some of their car park to outside drinking. The Standing Order in Irongate does not normally have any outisde areas, but they made good use of the area behind the pub.

Roadmap Step 3

Step 3 of the roadmap started on the 17th May 2021 and allowed pubs and clubs to open for indoor service but with Social Distancing in place. In essence this was a return to tier 1. Almost all of Derby CAMRAs opened. Only the Last Post in Derby remained closed.

The Final Step

The final step to lift all restrictions was originally hoped to be the 14th June, but with a new varient of the Corona virus, the Delta varient, causing a surge in infection rates, this Was been postponed. Finally on the 19th July 2021 pubs in Derby were allowed to operate without restrictions.


In the autumn of 2021 a new varient termed Omicron started to appear which proved to be much more transmissable than previous varients, but thankfully not as dangerous. Although restrictions did return their was little effect on the pub scene in Derby with indoor drinking continuing to be allowed including going to the bar. On the 24th February all legal restrictions for Covid were removed.


In general Derby faired very well through the pandemic with very little change to the pub scene. The Duke of Clarence on Mansfield Road never reopened after the first lockdown following an aborted renovation. The Rowditch on Uttoxeter Road also never reopened; the landlord reporting that they were considering retiring anyway.

Quite possibly the only noticable change for the Derby pub goer is the increased use of electronic payment.