Bookings flooding in as pubs prepare for Euros amid restriction uncertainty
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Pubs across Norfolk are braced for a busy summer of live football, despite uncertainty around when coronavirus restrictions will be eased.
The delayed European Championships begin on Friday, with many pubs preparing outdoor areas after an influx of bookings.
Michael Pywell, landlord at the King's Arms in Great Yarmouth, confirmed the Northgate Street pub will be showing games on a big screen outdoors again.
He said: "Our capacity will be massively reduced by more than 50pc inside when you include the people who would normally sit at the bar, or stand, and outside we'll have to be down by 20 or 30pc too.
"Luckily, we have quite a big garden and the first game is fully booked with the second heading that way too.
"Because of the restrictions, people aren't meant to be standing, which could be a problem if England score, but we will have posters up and will be telling everyone who books about the rules.
"For the first time we'll also be hiring a doorman, not because of trouble, just to help control things a little bit."
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Currently, the pub is planning for England's third and final group game on June 22 with the same restrictions, but will welcome more guests if rules change as hoped the day before.
For the first time, fans will also be welcomed to the England Fan Park, which will cover 10,000 square feet next to The Arena indoor sports hub on Avian Way, in Norwich.
It will show all of England's matches on a large screen, including the team's group stage matches on June 13 against Croatia, and June 18 against Scotland, for up to 475 people.
The first two dates will follow Covid-secure guidelines for the ticketed 18-plus event, which start at 12.30pm and 5.30pm respectively.
If restrictions are lifted on June 21 people will be able to get drinks and food from the bar and stand up to watch. That night's event starts at 6pm.
Groups of six can use tables but there will no be standing areas, table service will be operated by the bar and food stalls, track and trace will be in operation, masks will have to be worn away from tables and hand sanitiser will be available.
Dereham's Railway Tavern confirmed they will not be hiring the outdoor stands used at previous tournaments, where the pub would host 500 spectators per match.
Landlord Paul Sandford said restrictions had made it impossible for the initial matches, with a maximum of 30 people allowed at outdoor gatherings, while uncertainty over whether restrictions will ease on June 21 has made it difficult to plan.
All of the Euro matches will be televised at the pub, but due to popularity, the England matches will be ticketed at £5 per person, with the profits going to local charities.
The Chequers pub, in Wimbotsham, near Downham Market, will be showing games on a screen outside under a canopy, as well as inside, with tables of six available for booking.
The west Norfolk pub can accommodate 42 inside and outside 60 people can be seated under a canopy, and will be offering a £5 basket meal at half-time and beer pitchers, and jugs of cocktails and mocktails.
Designated drivers will also be offered free coke or lemonade, tea or coffee.
The Swan Hotel in Downham Market will also be showing games outside in a bid to adhere to Covid regulations, as well as inside with low volume.
The Fenman, in King's Lynn, will be showing games as normal this summer with screens inside.
The pub, which has capacity for 40 indoor customers and 30 outdoors, will be enforcing social distancing and will put up signs once the pub is full.
Greene King has also announced its venues, including the Compleat Angler, Shoe Makers and the Woolpack in Norwich, will offer a free pint of Ice Breaker on the first day of the tournament on June 11 to any customer who says "your home of pub sport" to bar staff.