‘There could be pubs in the city which won’t be operating in three months’ - Landlord’s stark warning after government announcement

Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers at Timberhill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers at Timberhill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A Norwich landlord has said he believes there are pubs in the city which “won’t be operating in three months time” without clearer coronavirus guidance from the government.

On Monday, Boris Johnson asked people to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres and all “non-essential contact” in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Now, Phil Cutter, the landlord of The Murderers, in Timberhill, said the new advice would not only hit pubs badly but left business owners in a difficult position of having to decide whether or not to close without being officially being ordered to.

He said: “In one breath [Boris Johnson] is saying don’t go down the pub but he’s not telling us [the pubs] what to do.”

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Mr Cutter said without being told to close any business which did decide to temporarily shut would not be able to claim business interruption insurance, he said: “[The government] are not giving any clear direction.

“The problem I have is that I have 15 staff that rely on the day to day here, if I don’t have any customers I’m still obliged to pay them but if I don’t have any money coming through the till, [where’s that money coming from?]

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“Do I close or pay my staff, that’s the quandary I’m in.

“There’s a lot of fixed costs that have to be paid. Boris Johnson said there’s some money available to help ut he hasn’t said how much or how it will work, so we’re absolutely no better off.”

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On Monday evening Mr Cutter said he had yet to decide whether he would temporarily close his pub, he said: “It’s too early at this stage [to decide], the responsible thing to do would be to close, however as a business we couldn’t afford to do that so if I decide to close I still have to pay my staff.

“We don’t know how long this is going to last, there are pubs in this city which won’t be operating in three months time if the state of affairs continues, at least in Ireland they have told the publicans they need to close, so they know and they can now apply for business interruption insurance.

“[We’re] just in a state of limbo,” he said.

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