Covid: Norwich pub landlord says staff having to 'police rule-benders'

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image captionJames Linder said he was happy his pub had opened but did not want to be "policing" customers

A pub landlord "happy" to be able to reopen has warned customers not to try to bend Covid restrictions by booking extra tables.

James Linder of The Eagle in Norwich welcomed drinkers to the pub's garden on Monday after four months' closure.

But he said guests reserving several tables at once for themselves and friends had put his staff in the position of "policing people", he said.

Trade body UK Hospitality said: "We need people to stick by the rules."

Outdoor drinking and dining was permitted again on Monday for the first time since England's lockdown began on 6 January, although Norfolk had already moved into tier 4 restrictions in December.

Under government restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19, venues can currently only serve customers sitting outdoor in groups of up to six people or from two households.

image captionMr Linden said it had been "really, really lovely" to welcome people back to his pub's beer garden

Speaking during a BBC Facebook Live, Mr Linder said while reopening his Newmarket Road pub had been "really, really lovely", there had been unnecessary extra pressures.

"The biggest challenge is... we've had people try to book under different names to try to form large groups - we've had to catch them out, which is not great," he said.

media captionYour questions answered about stage two in the roadmap out of lockdown in England

"With the greatest will in the world, they start mingling between the tables after a couple of drinks and forming one group.

"Once we're finding this is happening, we're turning the tables away, which means we've lost the tables booked out.

"It upsets the staff as well - they don't want to be going in and policing people."

image captionKate Nicholls, from trade body UK Hospitality, urged pub customers to "be kind" to staff as they returned to work after an extended absence

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality which represents pubs, hotels and restaurants, said the industry needed "customers to work with us".

"The additional costs of operating with the social distancing restrictions are really quite significant," she said.

"We've all missed going out to our pubs, bars, restaurants, but we need people to abide by the rules... and be kind to those hospitality staff.

"They'll have been out of work for six months or more, they might be a little bit rusty," she said

"If they're asking you to do something... they're only doing it because they're needing to abide by the law and to keep you safe."

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