CYCLING around town in a flamingo costume and doing takeaways for an entire village are just two of the ways that pub managers in Oxfordshire are staying in business during the Prime Minister's historic lockdown of the country.

Landlords who were told to close their pubs on Friday are now leading the way in finding innovative ways to keep going as the government shutdown attempts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Sam Smith and Rob McGregor, who have run The Keep bar in Wallingford since 2016, kicked off a drinks delivery scheme for the community over the weekend.

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At first, Mr Smith cycled around the town and the surrounding villages dressed in a bright pink flamingo costume to deliver gin and tonics mixed with the pub's own Albino Flamingo gin.

They eventually had so many orders they had to start using their cars, but Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday that he was stopping people leaving their homes for all but essential reasons put a stop to the scheme.

Mr Smith said: "The reaction we received from customers was overwhelming – so many were taking pictures of us dressed in the fancy outfits and posting them on social media.

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"It really made a glum time a bit more fun but we have had to call it a day.

"The new guidelines are strict but necessary in such scary times."

Now the pair face piling bills for parking spaces on the site, till software, insurance and CCTV, but vowed to use the time to experiment with new gin flavours.

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While staying positive about the future, they also acknowledged that the indefinite closure of pubs would have an enormous effect on the economy for years to come.

In Denchworth near Wantage, one anonymous philanthropist is paying his village pub to cook takeaway fish and chips for the entire village – for the next three months.

The wealthy benefactor, who has asked to stay unnamed, asked the Fox to do take-out for each of the 171 villagers – normally £5 per head – every Friday evening for the next three months.

Landlord Stephen Davidson, who was forced to shut down its 17th century pub on Friday, applauded the initiative.

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He said: "We had to shut doors and I had a lot of groceries that were going to go to waste.

“Food is scarce at the moment and I had access to supplies, so I had to do it.”

Other publicans, meanwhile, are hoping to make the best of a bad situation in other ways.

Craig Gradwell who runs The Swan in Wantage welcomed the measures to close all hospitality businesses.

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He explained: “It was good to get some clarity on the problem as before that people were just discouraged from going out.

“And, while now I can spend some well-deserved time with my wife and children, I do worry about having to continue paying rent and bills.

“I have been at the Swan for 14 years now and have probably spent more than one million on rent, so if there was a time to ask for a rent freeze it is now.”

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Michelle (left) and Craig (third) Gradwell receive an award from Wantage & District Chamber of Commerce at the Wantage Business Awards 2017.

Mr Gradwell said he would now focus on restoration work at the pub, which he had been postponing for years.

He said he had already started sanding the floors, painting walls and further decorations.

The manager of the Shoulder of Mutton in Wantage, Guy Ripley, said he considered trying to run a takeaway service but decided under the new restrictions it would be too difficult.

Mr Ripley also applauded Boris Johnson’s measures and added they were ‘fair but overdue’.

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He said: “I completely agree with social distancing and self-isolation, so it is important we follow the guidelines.

“This has hit us hard as we are a pub and we live day by day, but we will survive and reopen.”

The Prime Minister revealed officials would reassess whether they can conceivably relax measures every month.

IN an unprecedented announcement on Friday evening the Prime Minister asked pubs, restaurants and cafes to shut their doors indefinitely in the wake of the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.

Monday evening saw Boris Johnson tell people in the UK to stay at home at all times except to a) travel to work if absolutely necessary, b) buy food and essential supplies, c) get medical or health treatment, or d) exercise once a day.

Takeaway services are still permitted in the new government-enforced lockdown but many hospitality businesses chose to remain shut.