Pubs hit back at accusations some are breaking Tier Two rules

Fat Cat Brewery Tap landlords Mark White and Laura Hedley-White.

Fat Cat Brewery Tap landlords Mark White and Laura Hedley-White. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Pub and restaurant owners defended themselves after Norfolk health bosses suggested some were not sticking to the Tier Two Covid rules.

At a press conference on Thursday (December 10), there were suggestions that some businesses were getting around the rules, including the controversial one that says pubs can only serve drinks when someone has a substantial meal.

Tom McCabe, chairman of the Strategic Coordination Group at Norfolk Resilience Forum, said environmental health officers, Covid support staff and neighbourhood police officers would on Friday be visiting venues in each district to offer additional advice and "make clear their expectations around the restrictions".

He added: “I want to emphasise that the majority of our local businesses and shops are playing their part and following the guidelines to keep their customers and staff safe and we thank them and the people of Norfolk for their efforts.”

Mr McCabe said enforcement action would be a last resort, but may be necessary "for those who persistently put people at risk".

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Norfolk's public health director Dr Louise Smith added: “I’m concerned that people might feel they are keeping to the rules, but that they might be following Tier One restrictions, not Tier Two."

She added: "We all want to support our local businesses, to comply with the Tier 2 rules, as the rules that are there to keep us all safe.

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"The best support we can give to these businesses is to keep to the guidelines when we visit, so they as a business can confidently meet the Covid guidelines."

The fears that some businesses - and their customers - are not sticking to the rules come ahead of a government review into the different tiers across the country on December 16. Norfolk will be hoping to get into Tier One.

Pub bosses defended their efforts.

Mark White, landlord of the Fat Cat Brewery Tap on Lawson Road, Norwich, said: "Tier Two is extremely difficult for us and any business trying to perform any level of service.

"It took us a long time to work out what TIer Two meant for us. The government guidelines were sketchy at best. Some customers don't understand what Tier Two rules are."

He said he was pleased to reopen but added: "We have never worked so hard."

The pub owner said he had to close one day a week because of the extra work staff had to put into running a full kitchen - required for its new substantial meals - and full bar.

"We will carry on because that is what we do. We will succeed and are pleased to be open again. We are questioning people within an inch of their lives. We know how serious these things are," Mr White added.

Terry Hughes, one of the partners at the Belgian Monk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Terry Hughes, one of the partners of the Belgian Monk in Norwich. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Terry Hughes, one of the partners of the Belgian Monk on Pottergate, Norwich, said he had followed every rule so far and the restaurant always questioned people who came in to make sure they were all from the same households if they were eating inside.

But he added the restaurant would not get to the point of asking for proof of addresses.

He said: "It is hard out there. We are not happy with the level of trade but our customers and staff feel safe and that is what matters."

Bowling House, Dereham Road, Norwich. Sam Leonard, Dan Knights and Kelly Claypole.Picture: ANTONY KE

Sam Leonard, marketing manager of The Bowling House in Norwich (left) pictured with colleagues at the time Dan Knights and Kelly Claypole when the business opened in 2018. - Credit: Archant

Sam Leonard, marketing manager of Bowling House on Dereham Road, Norwich, which serves food and drink, said: "We have to take people's word. We do ask people if they are from the same household."

He added the business had lost custom due to not allowing groups in under the new rules and said it was frustrating if other businesses were not following the restrictions.

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