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Bury St Edmunds bar and club owners 'hopeful' despite rise in Covid cases

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We're keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

That’s the message from owners of Bury St Edmunds’ pubs, bars, cafes and nightclubs as the year comes to an end.

For many working in the hospitality sector, one of the hardest hit by the ongoing pandemic, the past two years have been devastating.

Oakes Barn. Picture: Mecha Morton
Oakes Barn. Picture: Mecha Morton

Trade has been decimated and even in the run up to Christmas, was still down between 30 and 40 per cent across the industry.

But in Bury – a town known for its wealth of hospitality offerings – business owners are remaining optimistic for 2022, despite the pressures.

“We all just have to keep our fingers crossed and keep positive,” said Anne-Marie Olmstead, one of the senior management team at the Oakes Barn pub.

Roxane and David Marjoram. Picture: Mecha Morton
Roxane and David Marjoram. Picture: Mecha Morton

“Our customers did come out to support us over Christmas. Our clientele are slightly older and it was great for them to get out.

"It might have been more if we weren’t in the situation we are, but they were great, and no restrictions in the run up to New Year was also good news.

We all just need to get on with our lives and be positive about what the next few months might hold.

In West Suffolk, between December 23 and December 29, there were 1,698 confirmed coronavirus cases, an increase of 42.2 per cent on the previous week.

Between December 13 and December 19, 26 people were admitted to West Suffolk Hospital, an increase of 13 per cent compared with the previous seven days.

There were 22 patients in hospital with coronavirus on December 21.

In the week up to December 29, there were three deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test – an increase of 200 per cent compared to the previous seven days.

In Bury St Edmunds central, in the seven days to December 24 there were 76 confirmed cases, up 35.7 per cent, bringing the total to 866.5 per 100,000 people.

David Marjoram, who runs The One Bull, was hit by nearly 1,000 cancellations in December due to concerns over coronavirus.

He said: “A lack of clarity coming from the government causes our industry problems. We are hopeful things won’t change from where we are today,we can continue trading and people will be more confident going out – as long as there is no increase in hospitalisations.”

His views were echoed by Wes Roper, of the town’s Verve Bar and Restaurant, who said he felt the country had been through a period of ‘lockdown-by-stealth’ due to ‘mixed Government messaging’ and delays in announcing restrictions.

Mike Kirkham, business support and marketing officer for Our Bury St Edmunds, which supports town businesses, said it was ‘vital’ any further restrictions should be backed by Government financial support, ‘sufficient notice and detail’ to allow businesses to plan.