Publican employs security after football team’s bid to break rules

A pub landlord in Norwich is using security on his door after large groups – including an entire football team – attempted to break Covid rules and drink together.

James Linder, who runs the Eagle, in Newmarket Road, said he did not want to put off customers and was very happy to have reopened.

But since Monday, he has found some people are trying to break Covid rules and meet in large groups of more than six or two households.

It started with some customers booking two or three tables under different names and then trying to get together when they arrived.

On Tuesday night the problem worsened when an entire group of men turned up after a football game, again having booked different tables.

Mr Linder, trying to keep to the Covid rules, had no choice but to turn away the men – losing an estimated £300-£400 in takings. It also meant he could not rebook the tables.

It comes as publicans are being left to their own devices when it comes to ensuring customers adhere to government guidelines.

In the meantime, Norfolk County Council are conducting spot checks on pubs and restaurants to ensure Covid rules are being adhered to. Business owners face stiff penalties if they are caught flouting rules with fines and even the removal of their licences as punishment.

Mr Linder said: “Nobody wants to be the bad guy and I completely understand why people want to meet in a large group and sympathise that everyone has been locked down without being able to see friends.

“On Tuesday night we had three tables all booked under different names and a football team turned up, they were all wearing shorts and t-shirts so had come straight from the game. Unfortunately one of the guys dropped everyone in it by saying ‘we’ve got loads of tables booked.'”

Mr Linder was worried the men would mingle between the tables and so had to ask them to leave.

“We could have booked those tables three times over. It puts the staff on edge so I’ve now employed a bouncer on the door who checks everything is in order.

“The problem is there are pubs willing to bend the rules and yet most of us are trying to do the right thing so it is very frustrating. But there are many worse things to have happened than us losing a few tables though so we are just asking people to try and keep to the rules to help us.

“We are so grateful for people coming to support us, it’s just we don’t want to lose our licence.”

Shaun Rignall, landlord of the Prince of Denmark, Norwich, opened on Monday after only taking it over at the end of August. “All we’ve known so far are coronavirus restrictions so we had record takings on Monday. We extended the garden at the back and can seat around 80 because we were worried people might try and get round the rule of six rule.

“It hasn’t happened but we have had instances whereby a group of five becomes three and then two more people try and join. Generally, people have been very good, they are regulars and I think just happy to be out drinking again.”

Marcus Pearcey, who runs the Oak Bar and Terrace, in Yarmouth Road, Norwich, with a capacity to seat 400 people outside, said so far people had stuck to the rules.

“We wouldn’t tolerate anyone trying to mingle in large groups but if people stay separate and don’t merge, it’s not a problem. So far, people have been really good but you do have to keep on top of all this.”

Both Norfolk Police and Norfolk County Council were asked to comment.

Source – Eastern Daily Press