'A disaster' - Pub bosses struggle under Tier Two restrictions

James Linder, who runs The Eagle pub on Newmarket Road in Norwich.

James Linder, who runs The Eagle pub on Newmarket Road in Norwich. - Credit: Antony Kelly

A pub owner in Norwich has said reopening after lockdown has been a "disaster" due to the ban on households mixing indoors.

People across the city returned to their favourite bars and restaurants after the month-long lockdown ended on Wednesday (December 2).

Many venues were busy, with shoppers out in force with Christmas looming.

But some hospitality bosses said despite the easing of restrictions, business had been a "struggle" because of Tier Two rules.

Pubs, bars and restaurants in Tier Two, such as Norfolk and Suffolk, can only serve alcohol with a substantial meal and cannot accept bookings from mixed households for tables inside.

For James Linder, who runs The Eagle pub on Newmarket Road, the majority of bookings have been for tables of two, which has had an impact on turnover.

He said: "The problem is the rule of having the same household inside and it is where we are really suffering as we're having smaller tables coming in.

"We've got a couple of tables outside undercover and with heaters. They're really saving us at the moment."

"Wednesday to Saturday was a bit of a disaster in terms of people coming in, although it is looking a bit more encouraging now."

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Mr Linder said if Norfolk was still in Tier Two in the New Year, it could lead to some "difficult decisions", such as only opening at weekends or closing completely until March.

Chris Avey, chef and owner at the River Green Cafe in Trowse, said on Thursday they had no bookings - although there were walk-ins.

He said: "It has been a very slow start. Bookings are looking slightly better now but it is not what we had been hoping for in December."

Mr Avey, who is hosting a charity Christmas lunch on December 23 for Time Norfolk,  has reduced the number of opening days to cut costs.

At outdoor food and drinks market Mysabar, in Castle Quarter, where households can mix, the opening weekend had been "really good".

Chris Howard, organiser, said: "We had a soft launch on Thursday and it was good. When we got the site it was completely overgrown so it took a good few days to clear."