'Utterly incomprehensible': CAMRA boss on tier two news for pubs

Man drinking beer in pub

Ian Stamp, chairman of the Norwich & District CAMRA organisation. - Credit: Archant

Bemusement and anger were among the reactions from Norfolk's pubs, leisure and tourism businesses to the news that Norfolk is in tier two restrictions from December 2.

Ian Stamp, chairman of Norwich & District's Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said they were "devastated" at the decision, which meant pubs had to stay closed unless they operated as restaurants.

Man drinking beer in pub

Ian Stamp, chairman of the Norwich & District CAMRA organisation. - Credit: Archant

He said: "Norwich & District CAMRA find it utterly incomprehensible that Norfolk has been placed in tier two, and are devastated that our wonderful independent pubs, which have made massive efforts to be able to open safely will, in the main, be unable to, as households cannot mix at all, and customers must order a meal.

"Pubs will now almost certainly lose their entire Christmas trade, and will struggle to stay afloat even if the county moves into tier one in January, as this is their quietest time of the year.

"We fail to understand how, after a month of lockdown when pubs have been closed completely, we are now two tiers higher than before lockdown, with positive cases low and falling across Norfolk, and hospitals taking patients from other areas.

"And why pubs, yet again, are singled out for closing, when it is clear they are not the reason for the spread of the virus?"

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich BID, Business Improvement District, called for increased government support for those affected. "The challenge is now how we can support our business communities."

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He said retailers would be opening until 7pm every working day in Norwich. He also urged the government to increase financial aid for businesses, as well as fix VAT at 5pc and also extend the 100pc discount on business rates for a further year. 

"We will be opening up the city again and encouraging people not to do online shopping with big conglomerates but to support local businesses."

Meanwhile tourism bosses greeted the news with disappointment. Peter Williamson, chairman of Norfolk & Suffolk Tourist Attractions, said: "The attractions sector is extremely disappointed and saddened by being given tier two, but ultimately the safety of our customers and staff has to be paramount.

"We wanted tier one and various Christmas events will be adversely affected."

Martin Dupee, director of Visit East of England and vice-chairman of NSTA, said: "I am slightly disappointed that we have been downgraded to tier two.

"For most of the tourism businesses it's not bad news but for pubs, some have already told me they're 'done.' They can't continue to play the game and all the uncertainty."

Ian Russell, director of Wroxham Barns, said: "We are relieved we can still deliver our Santa Experience and Christmas shopping events. Sadly there are many excellent attractions around the UK which will not be able to operate which is a great worry for the economy." 

Picture of man standing in front of tourist attraction

Ian Russell, director of Wroxham Barns - Credit: ANTONY KELLY

And David Graham, general manager of Dunston Hall Hotel, Norwich, added: "It's disappointing but not a surprise, it will make food and beverage service in the bar and restaurant areas more difficult but nevertheless we are going to be open and that is positive."

But Sheridan Smith, marketing manager for Chantry Place, formerly Chapelfield shopping centre,  said the news came as a "relief".

“With the Christmas shopping period being so vital for retailers, it is a relief that restrictions are being eased and that more shops and restaurants can open their doors next week and at their busiest time of year.  We are extending our opening hours for late night shopping."

What does Tier 2 mean for businesses?

Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals which is understood to mean a 'full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal'.

Early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances  that start before 10pm.


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