‘We have no option’ - pub lays out plans to stay afloat as more call for answers

The Bird in Hand pub at Wreningham. Photograph Simon Parker

The Bird in Hand pub at Wreningham. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A pub has revealed the measures it is taking to keep afloat, after the prime minister advised customers to stay away during the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday night, Boris Johnson told people they should work from home and avoid pubs and restaurants.

But the move has attracted criticism - business owners say the prime minister should have banned people from visiting and forced the venues to close, meaning they would have been able to recoup some of their lost income.

Among them is the Bird in Hand, in Wreningham, who got in touch to say the below. We have included it in full.

Boris Johnson announced [on Monday] at 5.30pm that people should refrain from using pubs, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality sector.

Don’t worry Boris we hear you - we don’t want coronavirus either, but you’re on the verge of destroying a large proportion of the hospitality industry very quickly and ruining many associated people’s lives and here is why.

We employ 25 amazing loyal members of staff, at least one of whom has been with us for upwards of 60 years. We, as employers, are responsible for putting food on their tables and roofs over their families’ heads.

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Like many others in our position, we were fortunate enough to take out a pretty comprehensive insurance policy that (all being well) should cover us for the daunting situation that we are now presented with - BUT only IF the government instruct us to close our doors and shut up shop. If we are able to claim on our insurance, we can continue to meet our staff wages as normal and avoid redundancies.

Instead of enforcing closures, as our European neighbours have, they have instead advised people not to use pubs, restaurants, cinemas and cafés. Ultimately this means you are driving people away from these businesses, but these businesses currently have no option but to trade to try and survive and pay their bills and staff.

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So do we close? And risk losing all our staff who will in turn struggle to pay bills and make ends meet?

Or do we continue marketing to drive custom through our doors and be branded the restaurant that doesn’t care about spreading the virus and by doing this appear socially irresponsible?

What do we do?

Well, as things stand currently, quite simply we have no option but to stay open because that’s the hand the government has dealt us.

But we don’t have to be totally irresponsible by doing this.

And this is how:

1) From Monday, March 23 we will not accept any tables of six or more people.

2) We will spread out all our tables and open every service area. All tables will be placed at least two metres from each other.

3) All customers will be required to wash their hands on entering and leaving the premises.

4) The Terrace will now be open for diners and drinkers, so those who want something to eat but don’t want to be inside can wrap up warm and dine outside in the fresh air.

5) We may ask some customers at random to have their temperature read (non-invasively) and anyone displaying a high temperature will be denied entry.

6) All salt, pepper and sauce dispensers will be removed from tables and be available on request which will then be sanitised accordingly afterwards.

We feel that these measures, along with our scrupulous cleaning and hygiene practices, will help us minimise risks to staff and customers.

If we have chefs on-site and we are actively trading this means we can offer a valuable service to the elderly and vulnerable people in the immediate community. We have briefed our culinary team to start preparing food parcels which can be collected and distributed to those that may not have access to a shop or a car, and may struggle to be able to feed themselves in the village as it doesn’t have a shop.

So just to reiterate we are open for business until we are instructed to close our doors.

Stay safe, be sensible

Lizzie, Alex and the BIH Team

MORE: Norfolk hospital confirms it has five cases of coronavirusTo find out more on coronavirus in our region, join our Facebook group.

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