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Former pub landlords on lucky escape from dream retirement Spanish holiday

PUBLISHED: 10:37 22 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:37 22 April 2020

Clint Smith and Shirley Rogers before retiring from the Dog Inn. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Clint Smith and Shirley Rogers before retiring from the Dog Inn. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Pub landlords who set off on an extended holiday in Spain after retiring in December are safely back at home after leaving before the country was devastated by coronavirus.

A man walks along an empty street in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Monday, April 20, 2020 as the lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus continues. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)A man walks along an empty street in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Monday, April 20, 2020 as the lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus continues. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

At the start of December, Clint Smith and Shirley Rogers left the Dog Inn at Horsford, retiring after nine years behind the bar and enjoying a well-earned break in sunny Spain.

They travelled out in their motorhome, soaking up the warm weather in Benidorm and Malaga and enjoying day trips out to Gibraltar and Morocco.

But in a twist of good luck, the pair, who both have health concerns, had booked flights home from their trip in March, just before the spread of the disease really took hold.

So far, the country has seen more than 200,000 coronavirus cases and 20,000 deaths, resulting in a particularly strict lockdown which the government has announced it will now begin to lift, but which has seen adults only allowed to leave their homes individually.

A municipal worker disinfects the outside of a children's play area in Madrid, Spain. Photo: AP/Paul WhiteA municipal worker disinfects the outside of a children's play area in Madrid, Spain. Photo: AP/Paul White

Mr Smith said: “We were quite lucky. Their lockdown means lockdown, and if they want to go shopping or to the pharmacy only one person is allowed in the car at a time.

MORE: What is life like as a pub landlord?



“We got back just as it really kicked off. If ever a plan went right it was this. We speak to friends and people out there are really struggling.

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“Quite a lot of the pubs and restaurants shut over the winter and reopen in March so it’s difficult for them.”

He said the pair had been trying to adapt to a more leisurely way of life since retiring during what had been a largely relaxing trip - beyond getting caught in the severe Spanish storms in January which left 13 people dead.

“Those businesses had just rebuilt and picked themselves up and now they’ve had to deal with this,” Mr Smith said.

“I feel so sorry for them.”

For now, the pair are shielding in Norfolk and working out what comes next.

They said they were grateful not to be in the pub industry at such a challenging time, and said not working over Christmas and New Year had been a “really strange” but welcome change.

“We are keeping safe and being sensible,” he said. “Everybody just has to do their best.”

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