'Thrown under the bus' - Tier 2 restrictions raise fears for West Norfolk businesses
- Credit: Chris Bishop
Pubs in the west of the county fear the decision to place Norfolk in Tier 2 could bring more businesses to the brink, while politicians said the key thing was to continue driving infections down in the hope restrictions can be eased.
The government today confirmed that Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire would be rated as being on high alert - areas with a "higher or rapidly rising level of infections" when the current lockdown ends on December 2.
While shops can reopen, households will not be able to mix indoors and pubs will only be able to open if operating as restaurants.
Anthony Goodrich, owner of the Rose and Crown at Snettisham, said: "This is really disappointing. It means that our drinking trade, which forms a large part of our business, will come to a standstill yet again.
"To have to have a meal with your drink, and as an individual have to sit at a table on your own, is not an inviting prospect. In terms of diners, it now has to be families only and we welcome them. We will get through this but we worry that sadly many wet-led pubs will not."
Michael Baldwin, owner of the Bank House Hotel and Wenns Chop and Ale House in King’s Lynn - “We understand the need for restrictions but hospitality is being severely impacted and for wet led pubs this is going to be another hammer blow, putting even more livelihoods and business at risk.
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"We can only hope that infection rates go in the right direction in order that businesses can at least have some trading over the festive period. “
Ben Handley, chef patron of the Duck Inn at Stanhoe said: "Single household tables mean that it will probably not be financially viable to open at all. Wet-led pubs could be finished by this, but even for pubs that are food based and restaurants this could be the end.
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"Our hearts go out to all our friends and colleagues across the country in this great, safe, industry. The hospitality trade has done more than almost every other sector since lockdown one in order to be the safest possible environment for staff and customers, but we have been thrown under the bus once more."
For one businessman, the ruling means he can re-open the café he was forced to close as the nation entered its second lockdown.
Mark Kacary, managing director of the Norfolk Deli and Norfolk Deli Café in Hunstanton, said: "As I understand it the restriction will allow us to open the café, which is a plus.
"The main benefit we see is that by being allowed to open the café this gives us the opportunity to suspend our deli shop takeaway service which means making sandwiches. Our online business has been unprecedented and to manage this effectively we simply won’t have the time to make sandwiches in our shop but will be able to pass people onto our café.
"Otherwise Tier 2 won’t make any difference to us. The café doesn’t stay open late, it’s not serving alcohol and as for the shop we’ve been open throughout sending Norfolk products across the country and even if we were in a Tier 3 area that wouldn’t change."
Infection rates have started falling across the county, with a recent surge in the King's Lynn area appearing to have slowed.
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss MP said: "I am optimistic that a vaccine will enable life to return to some sort of normal in 2021 but at the present time, the focus is very much to drive infection rates down and I would urge residents to keep following the rules so that Norfolk can move into Tier 1."
North West Norfolk MP James Wild said: "While I welcome the return to the tier system and the lifting of a number of restrictions, it is disappointing that Norfolk will be in the high category with controls that particularly affect the hospitality businesses."
Brian Long, leader of West Norfolk council, said: "With a bit of effort over the next few weeks from the public we can ourselves into Tier 1 and be in a better position going into Christmas."