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How will Norfolk’s pubs work when they can reopen?

Sisters and business owners Simone Hopwood and Leona Gard at the Wellington pub and smokehouse in Cromer. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Sisters and business owners Simone Hopwood and Leona Gard at the Wellington pub and smokehouse in Cromer. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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We might have taken our first step back to normality, but for north Norfolk’s normally booming hospitality sector it’s still very much a case of wait and see.

Callum Ringer, who lives and works at the Crown Inn pub, Sheringham. Picture: Labour PartyCallum Ringer, who lives and works at the Crown Inn pub, Sheringham. Picture: Labour Party

The government’s new road map out of the coronavirus lockdown says businesses such as pubs can open no earlier than July 4, and they will then have to follow distancing guidelines.

Simone Hopwood, co-owner of The Wellington pub and smokehouse in Cromer, said she “couldn’t wait” to be able to reopen the venue when the green light was finally given.

She said: “We have everything crossed. The Welly has always been a large part of the local community and judging by the feedback I’ve had, out locals can’t wait for the pub to be open again in some capacity.

“Will it be pub life as we know it? To be honest probably not, but we are making steps to make it as enjoyable as it can be from a safe distance.

The Victoria Inn on the Holkham estate. Pictuee: Holkham estateThe Victoria Inn on the Holkham estate. Pictuee: Holkham estate

“We’re throwing ideas around all the time trying to come up with safe ways to protect our staff and patrons.

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“We are so lucky at the pub that we have a large outside space to which is covered and heated so we can use the summer months to our advantage.”

Callum Ringer, who lives and works at the Crown Inn, a pub in Sheringham, said there would be challenges ahead.

The Wellington pub in Cromer. Picture : ANTONY KELLYThe Wellington pub in Cromer. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

He said: “We closed down before the lockdown officially started and I think we’ll be the last to re-open.

“I think we would struggle. A lot of pubs are quite small, we’re lucky we’ve got a bit of space. But with social distancing, we still couldn’t fit that many people into the pub. We’ve got outside space, but that’s reliant on the weather.

“It’s difficult to know how you would remain distant from fellow members of staff in that setting.”

Pub advocacy group Camra has called on landlords to scrap rents for pub operators while the lockdown continues.

Many pubs have been doing what they can to help others during the crisis. These have included the Victoria Inn at Holkham, which has been supplying free meals for the vulnerable and NHS staff, and the Ram Inn in Brundall, which has been displaying rainbows in its windows in exchange for donations to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity.


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