'For the greater good' – Suffolk pubs react to Tier 4 announcement

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, L

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, London. - Credit: PA

Suffolk publicans described the decision to put the county into Tier 4 as "for the greater good" but called for the government to cover pubs' costs while they have to be closed.

Today in a Downing Street press conference Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that from 12.01am on Boxing, Day Suffolk – along with Tendring, Uttlesford and Colchester – would move into Tier 4 of coronavirus restrictions, meaning hospitality venues must close.

Nick Attfield, director of properties at Adnams, which owns a large number of pubs and hotels in Suffolk and Norfolk, said: "The order to close on Boxing Day is disappointing to us but we do understand the need with this new mutant Covid strain.

Nick Attfield, director of properties at Adnams

Nick Attfield, director of properties at Adnams - Credit: JAMES BEDFORD/ADNAMS

"It's a sad situation for us. If you're a hospitality professional you take joy in entertaining people — not in closing our doors.

"The trickiness for us is that we're all still very stocked up for what would have been a relatively busy period for us – although subdued compared to other years."

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Mr Attfield said none of the food would be wasted and would instead be sold, distributed among staff or taken to food banks.

He added that the brewery had already chosen to close its managed pubs from the start of January.

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He said: "We'd recognised that cases are rising. And we want to do the best we can to protect our teams, our customers and our communities.

"Secondly, January and February can be very difficult trading months anyway."

Chris Mapey, who runs one pub in Woodbridge and one in Ipswich as well as sitting as a Conservative district councillor, said: "It's hardly a surprise to be honest.

Chris Mapey

Chris Mapey, who runs two pubs, said the decision to put Suffolk into Tier 4 is for the "greater good". - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

"We previously escaped a higher tier by the skin of our teeth in Ipswich and East Suffolk. Now the infection rate has gotten worse. 

"We've all got to do our bit. If SAGE and the government decide we need to be locked down again then so be it. It's for the greater good.

"But I am frustrated that hospitality has been singled out to be the whipping boy."

Mr Mapey, said he had amassed government-backed debts of £100,000 from running his business during the pandemic, called on the government to offer pubs more support.

"I do not mind being asked to close," he said. "But the government need to actually pay suitable grant payments. 

"The support should cover our fixed costs rather than a government-backed debt."

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