New Year's Eve is largely cancelled - but hopes are pinned on 2021

Richard Hughes at The Assembly House, Norwich Picture: The Assembly House

Richard Hughes at The Assembly House, Norwich Picture: The Assembly House - Credit: Archant

Hospitality venues across the county have "written off" New Year's Eve but are banking on a "huge" 2021. 

Despite East Anglia easing out of national lockdown and into Tier Two, publicans will still shut their doors before the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

As a result Richard Hughes, chef-restaurateur at the Assembly House, believes the majority of bars, pubs and restaurants will be forced to ignore one a night which is typically one of the biggest of the year. 

He said: "We will be taking bookings for dinner on New Year's Eve but we won't be doing our usual events. Speaking to other venues around the city I think we've all pretty much written it off. This is one of those nights where people might look at breaking the rules and pubs and bars don't want to facilitate that."

But despite losing vital footfall at peak trading periods Mr Hughes said 2021 is still on track to save many businesses and jobs. 

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"We're hopeful that 2021 will be a huge year. We'll have a lot of people looking to book their parties and weddings who had to rearrange from last year. We just have to use this time to prepare and go into next year as a stronger business," he said. 

Across pubs and hotels in Norfolk and Suffolk, Adnams will be doing its best to offer guests some form of festivity. 

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"It's 50/50 for us. Some of our pubs will be closed around Christmas, but some of our hotels will be open and holding a dinner on the evening of December 31," said Nick Attfield, property director for the brewer which runs sites across the region. 

"For people who are staying with us over New Year's Eve we'll be offering a socially distanced gala dinner should people decide they want to dress up, and then when everyone goes off to their rooms we'll be handing out goodie bags to welcome in the New Year. 

"It's not quite the same as fireworks on the beach but this has been a different year, so we just have to think creatively about how we can make it special."

The Chestnut Group, which has sites across East Anglia including the Globe Inn at Wells, is doing something similar. 

Henry Fairbanks, chief operating officer for the group, said: "All of our sites will be open on New Year's Eve with the exception of one - but that site is closed every year anyway. 

"We will be offering our overnight guests little goodie bags to take up to their rooms to enjoy while they ring in the New Year."

Looking ahead to next year Mr Fairbanks was also optimistic. 

He said: "I don't think you can underestimate the value that Eat Out to Help Out had for the hospitality industry. The fact that so many people came out and ate with us and were safe will stick in their minds.

"Because they had that experience in the summer of 2020 I think they're more likely to have the confidence to come out and explore in 2021."

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