Popular town bar closes down after government’s pub message

Paul Sandford, landlord of the Railway Tavern. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Paul Sandford, landlord of the Railway Tavern. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

A popular pub in a Norfolk town has announced that it has closed temporarily, saying that it would be “absolutely wrong” to jeopardise the safety of its customers.

The Railway Tavern in Dereham closed its doors at 10pm on Tuesday, March 17, and will not reopen them for at least 18 days.

Owners Debbie and Paul Sandford said that they had taken this decision “in line with government guidance on public gatherings and avoidance on public houses”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to avoid pubs and clubs in a press conference on Monday, and said: “Now is the time for everyone to stop all non-essential travel.”

In a post on social media, Mr and Mrs Sandford said: “It is with a heavy heart we have to announce that, as of 10pm [on Tuesday], The Tavern Bar will close until April 4 when we will reassess the situation.

“We are taking this stance in line with government guidance on public gatherings and avoidance of public houses. We see this as an important step in supporting the government’s strategy in defeating Covid-19.

“Our customers are what makes our business a success and we would be absolutely wrong to jeopardise the safety of you and your families.”

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They said that, although the bar was to close, the fish and chip shop would be open, but for takeaway or delivery orders only.

“We assure you our staff are taking this crisis very seriously and are under no illusion of the importance of hygeine and being aware of the signs of coronavirus.

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“Thank you all for your support and loyalty and we look forward to seeing you all when this dreadful situation is over.”

While pubs and bars are not currently being forced to close by the government, there are fears for the future of the industry in Norfolk and beyond.

Ian Stamp, chairman of the Norwich and District branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), described the virus as the “worst thing to hit the pub trade since the Second World War”.

He said: “It’s going to be very tough for pubs. People who lease their pubs are going to find it especially difficult as well as the breweries – I spoke with a brewer recently who said they didn’t know how many orders they would have.

“It’s a very bleak picture, and it could go on for a very long time.”

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