City publicans praise punters for following rules - and say keep it up
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Pub owners in Norwich have raised a glass to customers for sticking to coronavirus rules since they reopened - and urged them to keep up the good work.
Publicans opened their doors for the first time in months on April 12 but can still only welcome regulars back outdoors, with table service and other social distancing measures in place.
There is still just under a month to go before, if it goes to plan, indoor hospitality can resume in the next stage of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown on May 17.
But Mark White, who owns the Fat Cat Tap on Lawson Road with wife Laura, said it was good to be back.
He said: “It's been amazing. The response from not only our regulars, but new customers as well, in wanting to go out and enjoy a bit of freedom has been absolutely incredible.
“We were always a little bit worried about whether people would want to come back to the pub, but the smiles, the laughter and the fact that people have been able to meet up with people again after so long has been amazing to watch."
Pubs have had to weigh up whether it is viable to stay open with reduced capacity, with Mr White admitting his pub was “very lucky” to have enough outdoor space to fit up to 160 people.
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Some pubs are operating reduced hours, with the Belgian Monk on Pottergate only opening on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until punters can be welcomed indoors.
Terry Hughes, its owner, said his pub can fit 48 outside but is hoping that good weather will boost chances of welcoming as many people back as possible.
“Our biggest concern was always that if the weather isn't great, we immediately halve the number of tables and it's just not viable then," he said.
“It's probably not viable now to just do three days, but at the end of the day, it's bringing some cash in.”
Both pubs said people were happy to stick to the stringent rules, which Mr White said was like “running a marathon with your legs tied together”.
But both said there had been no problems so far, and encouraged people to continue sticking to the rules to ensure they remain open.
Mr White said: “Luckily we've got a gate system so [customers] all have to come through one place every single customer gets briefed when they come in.
“I’m sorry but if you don't abide by the rules because, our licences are at risk. If any of these rules are broken, then we will have to reject you and we’re not afraid of barring people if they don't abide by the rules, because our livelihoods, our staff’s livelihoods and our licence are just too much to protect."
Mr Hughes added: “There's a rule to be followed. We don't like it, but we enforce it because that's what it's there for, so we will protect ourselves accordingly.”