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Queues outside Ipswich bars now ‘a lot better’ after earlier social distancing concerns

PUBLISHED: 19:00 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:58 18 August 2020

Amy Coughlan, general manager of Isaacs on the Quay 
Picture: ELLA WILKINSON

Amy Coughlan, general manager of Isaacs on the Quay Picture: ELLA WILKINSON

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Bar managers in Ipswich say queuing outside venues went more smoothly this weekend - despite concerns earlier this month.

Isaacs on the Quay on Ipswich Waterfront, where queuing went more smoothly at the weekend Picture: ELLA WILKINSONIsaacs on the Quay on Ipswich Waterfront, where queuing went more smoothly at the weekend Picture: ELLA WILKINSON

Amy Coughlan, general manager of Isaacs on the Quay, said: “We felt that it was a lot better this weekend, partly down to the fact that more venues are opening up, so people have more options about where to go.”

She said on Friday they didn’t have a queue, and on Saturday people were only queuing on and off, partly because of the changeable weather.

“It has definitely become a lot easier to manage, and we have put a lot of things in place.”

Ms Coughlan said most people behaved well, but added: “We have one of our security team in charge of the queue, to ensure people are socially distancing and not drinking in the queue. We also have barriers to stop anybody trying to queue jump.

Aurora, Ipswich.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAurora, Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We feel that we have come a long way from the first weekend after reopening, when everyone was going in a little bit blind. We have increased door staff, despite our massively reduced capacity, and we are happy with how it’s going.”

Callum Hewett, owner of another Waterfront venue, the Aurora bar and restaurant, said: “It was quite good this weekend. A lot of customers now understand that this is how the ‘new normal’ is - I think there has been an element of people getting used to it.”

He said they had brought in various measures to help reduce queuing time, such as taking people’s details for the government’s coronavirus track and trace scheme while they are queuing, and matching groups of people in the queue with tables which become free.

Aurora has introduced a system of two separate queues for the restaurant and bar, but Mr Hewett said in practice the restaurant is usually fully booked in advance.

Aurora, Ipswich.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAurora, Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He added: “I think the police and council have been accessible and supportive, and the licensing officers have looked at what we are doing and seem very pleased.”

Pub praised for social distancing

Meanwhile, the Greyhound pub in Henley Road has received praise on social media for its social distancing measures.

Customer Carolyn Burch tweeted: “Shoutout to @TheGreyhoundIps for a perfect example of how to do social distancing and observe all the directives without making it into a total pain! Great evening in the garden!”

The Greyhound in Ipswich has been praised for its social distancing measures. Picture: THE GREYHOUNDThe Greyhound in Ipswich has been praised for its social distancing measures. Picture: THE GREYHOUND

Landlord Dan Lightfoot said: “It’s been really good. We have four serving points and people queue outside and come in at a side door.”

He said it was clear to everyone how the system worked, and they had received many nice comments about it. He added the Greyhound has created more space outside by enlarging its garden.

Andrew Barlow, owner of the Steamboat Tavern in New Cut West, said social distancing there had also been working well.

Mr Barlow said: “Our customers are always very respectful and support us.”

Dan Lightfoot, landlord at the Greyhound pub in Ipswich Picture: DAN LIGHTFOOTDan Lightfoot, landlord at the Greyhound pub in Ipswich Picture: DAN LIGHTFOOT

The pub has brought in a range of measures including a one-way system, a “one in, one out” system for the toilets and hand sanitisers at different points around the pub.

The Steamboat, well-known as a music pub, is starting to reintroduce events, including some gigs. However, these are being held outside because with social distancing it would not currently be viable to hold them indoors.

There was concern over queuing at nightspots in Ipswich earlier this month when a picture showing “at least 100” people queuing outside Sin Bar in Ipswich town centre late on Saturday, August 1, surfaced on social media.

However, the bar said it did not feel the picture fairly represented the efforts it had put in to ensure customer safety,

The Steamboat tavern in Ipswich Picture: ANDREW BARLOWThe Steamboat tavern in Ipswich Picture: ANDREW BARLOW

A spokesman said at the time: “We have reduced the capacity of the venue to make sure that social distancing can take place inside, as well as having floor markings both inside and outside, and additional doormen to help limit the flow of customers into the venue.

“We have worked closely with the various authorities ahead of reopening, adapting our venue to a more bar-style environment, to ensure we comply with the government guidelines. We will continue to work on putting additional measures in place to ensure that there is social distancing both inside and outside the venue, as well as seek further advice from the relevant authorities.”

Police working with venues to manage queues

Chief Inspector Steve Denham said the vast majority of people in Suffolk had done whatever had been asked of them. He said: “Police, local authorities and public health have always worked closely to keep Ipswich safe and we are continuing to work together now to provide advice to licensees about operating their businesses in the safest possible way. We have been promoting the guidance and following that up with visits where any issues have been concerned.

“There was a large queue at a licenced premises in Ipswich where social distancing wasn’t being followed as closely as we would want it to be and since then, not just police but other agencies such as environmental health and local authority licensing teams have worked with those premises where anything has been reported around following the Covid regulations and provided that advice and guidance to help them prevent any further problems in the future.

“Licensees have responded really well to that challenge and we have found they are very respectful and want to work with us to help follow that guidance.”

He said measures to manage queues depended on the nature of the business, but could include “things like providing a clear barrier area so the queue can be managed in an orderly way, providing markers on the floor so that people queuing up can see where social distancing lines are and providing advice to people in the queue.

“Things like providing a clear barrier area so the queue can be managed in an orderly way, providing markers on the floor so that people queuing up can see where social distancing lines are and providing advice to people in the queue.

“Understandably, people who queue up for a large amount of time have a reasonable expectation that they will gain entry at the end. There is no point letting a queue form if it would exceed their capacity of that venue.

“The nature of policing, we understand and empathise with what the experience can be like trying to get people to comply with the rules, and as I say from a police point of view I would encourage licencees to take the same approach around educating and working with people to encourage them to follow that guidance.

“In the vast majority of cases that will be more than adequate to resolve the issue and then there are powers around enforcement for the police, and businesses themselves can ask people to leave if they are not happy with the way that they are behaving in their premises.”


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