'Stick with us' say pubs and restaurants amid rise in covid cancellations

Chef Richard Bainbridge has said he isn't concerned about the potential virus fines on businesses. P

Richard Bainbridge, owner of Benedicts has said he is expecting more people to cancel parties due to the changing Covid situation - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Restaurants and pubs in Norfolk have seen a rise in cancellations amid concerns from the public around the new covid variant.

However, they have today urged people to follow the government advice and continue to support them as they attempt to recover from a tough two years.

Although the latest measures around facemasks in a bid to fight off the Omicron variant haven't directly impacted the hospitality sector, it has dented public confidence.

The Wine Cellar, Norwich. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Wine Cellar has had some big groups cancel their Christmas parties at the restaurant - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2009

Mark Alden, general manager at the Wine Cellar in Norwich, said: "We had a group of 35 and a group of 40 cancel their Christmas parties.

"One group were key workers who couldn't risk the chance of them all catching Covid as it would bring the whole department down.

"We've also had smaller groups cancelling. It seems that people want to make sure they have a family Christmas so everyone is a bit hesitant to go to work-dos."

The Black Horse pub on Earlham Road, in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Black Horse Pub had a number of groups cancel after the announcement of Covid restrictions over the weekend - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The Black Horse pub in Earlham Road, Norwich, has also lost bookings in the last few days.

Most Read

General manager Adam Legind said: "People don't know what's going to happen so they are cancelling just to be safe.

"We've had some family groups cancel big bookings already as they wanted to keep vulnerable family members safe. A number of older people have said they'd rather stay in now.

"It is a real shame because we've been through a lot the past two years. It is the uncertainty that is worrying for us but all we can do is be as prepared as possible."

However, at one restaurant in Great Yarmouth, the number of bookings actually increased over the weekend - as people tried to get celebrations in early for fear tougher restrictions may be imminent.

Paul Garrod, owner of Garrod's Bar and Restaurant, said: "The last few days has been absolutely crazy. If anything bookings have gone up. We had one group of 12 people in last night who wanted to make sure they got together for Christmas before any rule changes."

Earlier today the UK's Health Security Agency, called on people to limit socialising in the run up to Christmas. 

For Richard Bainbridge, owner of Benedicts in Norwich, this statement will no doubt lead to further cancellations.

Mr Bainbridge, 39, said: "People will definitely start being selective over what parties they go to and will feel quite dubious about the next few weeks. 

"In our industry, we have to be thick-skinned. I am worried but all we can do is keep smiling." 

Landlords on new facemask rules

When asked about the new facemask rules, Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose Pub and Deli, in Queens Road, backed them, but said she did not want the face covering rules to be extended into the hospitality industry.

She said: "I'm hoping this is the extent of it. If we go back to restrictions within hospitality that is going to be devastating for trade over the Christmas period. I wouldn't want it to change. Another lockdown would not be good.

"Everyone is looking forward to Christmas and this is when people in hospitality take their money for the next year. The government have acted fairly quickly."

Phil Cutter, landlord of The Murderers, in Timberhill, said: "It is better to have the vaccine than not. The vaccine is for the safety of people around you."

He was pleased hospitality had been exempt from face covering rules because it would limit capacity for many businesses.

But he added: "The priority for us is the safety of our staff and customers."

Christian Hodgkinson, landlord of the Fat Cat and Canary, in Thorpe Road, said it made business sense to not introduce masks for hospitality but the rules overall were confusing.

He said: "Boosters are a good idea. It seems the way forward."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter