'It's bullying' - Landlord speaks out after anti-vaccine protests
- Credit: Ella Wilkinson
A city landlord has called an anti-vaccine mob who descended on his pub "bullies".
Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers in Norwich, was the target of an anti-vaccine protest. The crowd of more than 100 included Piers Corbyn - the anti-vaccine ringleader and brother of former Labour leader Jeremy.
It came after Mr Cutter's decision to limit entrance to his pub to people that had either received one vaccination or could prove they had returned a negative lateral flow result.
Mr Cutter says the decision is one he had taken to ensure the safety of his staff and patrons - but protesters described the move as "medical apartheid".
The mob gathered in the city centre around lunchtime for a demonstration against Mr Cutter's decision - and the wider rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.
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Among them was Mr Corbyn, who was participating in the demonstration as part of a protest trail around the country.
He admitted he had never been in the Murderers but that the measures "affected everybody" and that he was opposed to it.
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He said: "Coercism has to be ended. People should have personal choice."
Mr Corbyn, however, did not agree that Mr Cutter should be allowed personal choice over the conditions for entry to his pub.
He added: "We will protest at any business that promotes vaccine passports."
Mr Cutter said: "All I have been trying to do is make sure my staff and customers are safe and my business can continue. Targeting a small business like mine is bullying and harassment.
"They absolutely have the right to protest and have their own opinions, but I have the right to have my own opinions too and I am simply doing what I think is the responsible thing to do."
He added that he had reached his decision after a small number of Covid cases among staff members meant he had to close for two of the busiest days of the year for sport-led pubs - when England appeared in the final and semi-final of the European Championships.
He said: "Those two days probably lost us around £30,000 alone so that influenced my decision too.
"Other pubs may well have thrown in the towel at that point, but I'm sticking to my guns and have seen a real groundswell of support from the city for that."
The protest began in All Saints Green where there were speeches from Mr Corbyn, former city councillor Nigel Utton and Jeff Wyatt, a former UKIP councillor for Milton Keynes.
It then marched to the Murderers, where further speeches were made - with Mr Cutter playing Disney songs out of the window in a defiant counter-protest.
Once the protesters had demonstrated outside the pub, they continued to march through the city, along London Street and through the Norwich Lanes, before returning to All Saints Green "for a pint", Mr Utton said.
As they marched through the streets they were met with bemused looks from passers-by, along with a handful of angry outbursts.
A number of the protesters dressed as prisoners, while others carried banners and placards with messages opposed to the pub and the Covid vaccine rollout.
They were accompanied by members of Norfolk Constabulary, with more than a dozen officers on duty to manage the situation.
Officers, all wearing face coverings, had previously stood in small clusters between All Saints Green and the pub, before providing crowd control as the march moved through the city.
Among those who stood by to watch the demonstration was a nurse, who did not wish to be named but was angered by the protests.
She said: "This angers me so much. We have put in so much effort over the last 18 months and the vaccine has reduced the number of people requiring hospital treatment with Covid.
"It is very frustrating to hear. I understand they want freedom but we have got to try and keep things safe."