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‘Everybody has to work together to beat this’ - Norwich pubs and restaurants back new lockdown

PUBLISHED: 22:03 16 April 2020 | UPDATED: 06:52 17 April 2020

Dawn Hopkins, landlady of the Rose Inn on Queens Road, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Dawn Hopkins, landlady of the Rose Inn on Queens Road, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A landlady fears pubs could take months to reopen after coronavirus lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

Mario Luchai, owner of Trattoria Rustica Italian restaurant in Norwich. Picture: Louisa BaldwinMario Luchai, owner of Trattoria Rustica Italian restaurant in Norwich. Picture: Louisa Baldwin

Dawn Hopkins, 50, who owns the Rose Inn on Queens Road, Norwich, said it was inevitable the lockdown was extended for at least three weeks by the government.

Vijay Jetani, business director and owner of Namaste Village Indian restarant on Queens Road, Norwich, with his wife Urmila Jetani. Picture: Vijay JetaniVijay Jetani, business director and owner of Namaste Village Indian restarant on Queens Road, Norwich, with his wife Urmila Jetani. Picture: Vijay Jetani

The announcement was made by foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday, April 16, during the daily Downing Street press conference.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19) on April 16. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA WireForeign secretary Dominic Raab during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19) on April 16. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

Ms Hopkins said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we [the UK] have to be in lockdown for a bit longer to enable us to get back to normal. It is better than rushing everything. I think pubs will be closed for the next few months. The issue of social distancing in pubs is very difficult. I think lockdown should have been done sooner.”

She added she would love to reopen and said the appetite was there from customers but it would not be possible immediately after lockdown is lifted.

Ms Hopkins said it would be hard for the business to come back from the pandemic.

During the Downing Street press conference, Mr Raab, who is standing in for prime minister Boris Johnson during his recovery from coronavirus, said: “We know it is rough going. Together we must keep up this national effort for a while longer. There is light at the end of the tunnel but we are in a delicate stage of the pandemic. Please stay at home. Now is not the moment to give the coronavirus a second chance.”

He acknowledged the impact the lockdown had on businesses and individuals.

Italian-born Mario Luchai, 56, owner of Trattoria Rustica in Princes Street, Norwich, said: “We have to open when it is safe. It has to be done properly. This coronavirus has opened our eyes in terms of how connected we are as a country and throughout the world. This problem has to be tackled globally.”

Mr Luchai, who has family in Milan and Sardinia, said some people, particularly while shopping in supermarkets, were not fully following the lockdown rules which did not help the recovery.

“Everybody has to work together to beat this,” he added.

The restaurant owner, who makes 50 meals a week for NHS staff as well as some dishes for vulnerable neighbours, believed testing needed to be improved to help the UK tackle the virus.

He also praised the government for its furlough scheme, meaning none of his 17 staff had to lose their jobs.

MORE: Three new deaths confirmed at Norwich hospital

Vijay Jetani, 35, owner and business director of Namaste Village on Queens Road, Norwich, who is operating a delivery service as well as cooking for NHS workers, said: “No-one likes lockdown but it looks like that is the best choice at the moment. We are happy to bear the loss and we don’t want our NHS and nation to suffer.”

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