Bury St Edmunds pub landlords and bar owner call for 'disastrous' 10pm curfew to be scrapped
Pub landlords and a bar owner in Bury St Edmunds are calling on the Government to scrap the ‘disastrous’ 10pm curfew which is hitting their trade.
Among them is LP owner Mike Garling, who says his venue, reliant on late night customers on Fridays and Saturdays, has lost 70 per cent of its normal trade and he has had to make 10 staff redundant.
Business leader Mark Cordell has raised the issue with Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill highlighting the low number of cases in the town and says the Government is ‘giving with one hand and taking away with the other’ after the success of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Mr Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, said: “There seems to be no supporting evidence that closing at 10pm will slow the spread of coronavirus in Bury St Edmunds and we have to remember that cases here are very low anyway with considerable other measures such as sanitizer stations already in place.”
In July, LP, in Woolhall Street, transformed its nightclub into a lounge bar, which Mr Garling said had received ‘really positive feedback’ but the curfew had ‘removed the chance of operating that properly which is disastrous’.
“It’s devastating and six months of this will capitulate the late night industry into submission.
“I’ve already had to make 10 staff redundant. Most of them were off to university anyway so the impact on them wasn't too bad.
"If it lasts for six months, it will be a miracle if we are still here really."
He has decided to open seven days a week to try to bring in more trade.
Sean Driscoll, director of MetroInns (Suffolk) which includes The Masons Arms in Bury St Edmunds, said they had lost at least 30 per cent of their turnover.
He said: "The curfew should be scrapped. The detrimental impact it's having on businesses without I suspect any significant benefit to the Covid situation isn't doing anyone any good."
David Marjoram, who owns The One Bull as part of Gusto Pronto, said over the Saturday, Sunday and Monday after the curfew was introduced, more than 50 people who had booked tables decided to 'just not turn up or cancel'.
He said: "It's brutally hard particularly as Bury has for so long been recognised for its quality of food and drink establishments all of whom have worked so hard to make their premises as safe as possible for customers."
A vote by MPs on the 10pm curfew is expected to be held tomorrow amid reports that dozens of Conservative MPs could rebel against the measure.
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill, who is minister for public health, primary care and prevention, said: "I understand the concerns of local hospitality businesses and how hard it has been, but contact tracing data has indicated patterns of contacts linked to hospitality venues, restaurants, pubs and bars.
"We have looked at other countries and taken a balanced approach, between reducing the spread and protecting livelihoods.
"These measures are temporary and will of course be kept under constant review.”