Freedom day: Pub rules set to differ across Norfolk

People drinking in a pub. Picture: PA

Face masks will no longer be mandatory when entering pubs and bars from July 19 - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Pubs across the county are gearing up to lift all restrictions next week in different ways with some taking more cautious approaches than others.

From Monday, July 19, face masks will no longer be mandatory for customers and staff, while restrictions on social contact will be lifted. 

The Murderers in Norwich has a strict policy in which customers will be refused entry if they have not had at least one vaccine with a minimum period of two weeks.

All guests will be required to prove their vaccination status to gain entry both inside and outdoors at the venue.

But other pubs across the county are looking forward to easing most restrictions. 

Zena Pye, landlady of the Albion in Cromer, said: "It will be up to the customer to decide whether they want a face mask or not. We just want normality back. We will try to get everything back to normal as possible.

Steve and Zena Pye celebrate with their regulars as they reopen the Albion in Cromer. Picture: DENIS

Steve and Zena Pye, owners of The Albion in Cromer - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"The gents especially are very keen to stand up and come to the bar. It will be good to get the old feel of the pub back again." 

The Queen's Head in Wymondham and the Red Lion in Swaffham are among the pubs which will continue to prohibit standing at the bar beyond July 19, however. 

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Staff will refuse service at the Queen's Head if customers do not have a seat. 

Rob Bartram, landlord of the Red Lion, said: "Nothing much is going to change in my view. People will still wear masks if they feel comfortable. 

Owner of the Red Lion Pub in Swaffham Robert Bartram with bar manager Shelly Czarnecki. Picture: Mat

Owner of the Red Lion Pub in Swaffham Robert Bartram with bar manager Shelly Czarnecki. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

"Test and trace comes to an end and I am not sure how you can enforce vaccination passports. It's more of a case of people being sensible and establishments still doing social distancing and safety features.

"Wearing face masks is a personal issue and that is how it should be. You do not get all these large supermarkets patrolling people. If you start invading people it causes aggro." 

Health secretary Sajid Javid announced in the House of Commons on Monday that the government was going ahead with the final stage of its roadmap next week when England will enter its "new phase of continued caution" in living with coronavirus.

File photo dated 29/11/18 of Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who is under pressure to "get a grip" on th

New health secretary Sajid Javid addressed the House of Commons on Monday afternoon. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Peter Marks, chief executive of REKOM UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including Bar&Beyond, which has a location in Norwich, said he was "thrilled" to be able to reopen next Monday "at full capacity and without any requirement for a negative Covid test".

What about public transport? 

Train and bus operators will no longer be able to force passengers to wear face masks after the end of lockdown regulations next week - but they will be urging travellers to follow government advice and cover their faces on busy services.

Until Monday all passengers on public transport have to wear face masks unless they have a medical exemption - that includes people at railway stations.

But from then there will be no compulsion to wear a mask - although it is being replaced by firm government advice to do so, especially on busy services.

Commuters wearing face masks travelling on buses in Norwich, in line with government guidelines for

Passengers wearing face masks on a Norwich bus earlier in the coronavirus pandemic when it was mandatory to do so - Credit: Archant

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said:  “We will continue to operate in line with government guidance. From July 19, the Government recommends that people should wear face coverings in crowded areas – such as busy trains.

“Increasing numbers of people are travelling with confidence on our trains and they can continue to do so." 

The Confederation of Passenger Transport is the national body representing the bus and coach industry. It questioned why public transport operators had been singled out by the government for specific advice.

A statement from the CPT said: “We expect that many people, especially in busy places, will follow the Prime Minister’s call to continue to wear a face covering as a courtesy to others.

"Passengers, though, will find it difficult to understand why the Prime Minister has singled out public transport as somewhere to wear a face covering when a range of other activities share its characteristics.