Businesses urge notice if 'firebreak' implemented

Stefan Gurney, head of Norwich BID, and Phil Cutter, of The Murderers, reacted to the firebreak reports. 

Stefan Gurney, head of Norwich BID, and Phil Cutter, of The Murderers, reacted to the firebreak reports. - Credit: Archant

A return of Covid restrictions would be "harmful at best" to businesses says a Norwich publican if a "firebreak" lockdown was implemented in autumn.

A member of Sage told the i newspaper that the UK is about to enter “an extended peak” of infections, which could push the NHS to breaking point and force new restrictions - plans the government has denied.

Norwich publican Phil Cutter said the hospitality industry would need government support after sustaining large losses, having been closed for 12 of the last 18 months. 

Mr Cutter has faced online abuse and protests outside the pub over his decision to not allow unvaccinated people in. 

He said: “Any sort of lockdown is going to be detrimental to the hospitality industry.  

"Half term is especially a really important period for us as it is the last half term before Christmas. We see a massive uptake in people coming in trying to buy Christmas presents before the rush. 

“I think any sort of return of restrictions is going to be harmful at best."  

Mr Cutter said if October did introduce a potential fire break it could also affect the annual CAMRA beer festival.  

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The Timber Hill-based publican said: “What we have seen is every time the rules change people are reticent to go forward again.

"It would be devastating if we do end up having more restrictions put on us again and the government will have to help the hospitality industry who cannot keep sustaining the losses we are."  

Stefan Gurney, head of Norwich BID, said it was "probably wise" for public health and the government to put in place contingency measures. 

He said BID helped to provide information and support as quickly as possible to businesses and would do so again.

He said: "I think it has always been one of the considerations public health and the government had in place after last time being caught without having that forethought.  

“We would ask the government to come out as early as possible to let the business community know so they can prepare for these eventualities.  

“It will be a challenge if it happens but the businesses will be very keen they are doing the thing by their staff and their customers."