‘We had to turn people away’ - How busy were Suffolk pubs last night?
PUBLISHED: 11:48 05 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:53 05 July 2020
Pubs and bars reopened across Suffolk yesterday, with thousands of people heading out after three months of lockdown.
But just how busy were they? We’ve asked a number of pubs in some of our main towns.
There were long queues outside of a number of pubs in Ipswich last night.
Customers were seen queueing up to get into Isaacs on the Quay.
The bar’s large courtyard was extremely busy with customers sat at tables which had been spaced out to allow for social distancing.
Elsewhere, pictures showed crowds at The Halberd Inn and the Cock and Pie as punters returned to pubs for the first time since lockdown in March.
Earlier in the day, the likes of The Greyhound was busy, with tables in the pub garden a popular spot.
The Woolpack in Ipswich got off to a successful start on Saturday.
The pub has created an extended beer garden in its car park so that customers could sit outside and enjoy the weather.
Landlady, Marita Hunter-Rodwell said: “Everyone was really well behaved and people got used to our one way system quickly.
“Everyone was in a good, pleasant mood. It was actually a really wonderful day to work.
“It got busier at the end of the evening and today, with the beautiful weather breakfasts are also really busy so it is looking promising.
“I was getting a little worried before we opened so I think we over prepared which meant we were really successful on the day. So it was definitely worth it.”
Bury St Edmunds
In Bury St Edmunds, people had to be turned away at the door at several pubs which had reached capacity.
At the The Kings Arms in Brentgovel Street, some customers had to be turned away.
One staff member said: “We were very lucky. We reserved half of our tables as we had to operate with a limited capacity.
“A few people were turned away due to this, but they were all very understanding. There was no trouble whatsoever.
“After a few drinks, you did have to remind people not to move chairs and hug their mates they had not seen in three months, but all in all, a good turn out.”
Pubs opened throughout Woodbridge last night with most recording a good turnout.
The police were present in the town, but according to Chris Mapey, owner of The Angel, the evening went off mostly without incident.
He said that most of his customers were “excited to sit in a pub garden again”.
A ‘one in one out’ system was in place when the pub became full, with customers queueing down the road.
He added: “At one point every seat was taken and there were queues for one in, one out when at maximum capacity.
“It was busy right up until close.”
Andy Thompson, landlord at the The Cherry Tree, said that on the whole “most people were respectful” of social distancing guidelines.
He said: “It was nice to be open again, really nice to see old faces.
“The huge majority of people were regulars, so it is nice to see them out and support their locals after such a long time away.”
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The Brewery Tap was one of a number of pubs to open in Sudbury on “Super Saturday”.
The East Street bar was at their 40 person capacity last night, but manager Jonny Hamblin said he thought the evening went “much better than expected”.
He said: “It was a bit like going back to school, or the first day of a new job.
“All of our locals, which the majority of our customers were, came in - they were well behaved, understood the rules, understood the change, and went along with it.
“I was expecting, to be honest, to get mobbed by a group of lads or girls that had been out, but that didn’t happen in the end.
“It was just a nice day.”
Like many publicans, Mr Hamblin had concerns over maintaining social distancing guidelines when the pub reached capacity.
But, with some tactical organisation he said that the opening “worked really well”.
He added: “I was hosting, so I was taking people to tables, making sure they sanitise their hands, to start with.
“Then there was a waitress who was taking orders, and we had someone behind the bar pouring the drinks.
“So that kept the bar clear, and kept people away from the staff.
“We’ve got a little courtyard, with five benches in, which is enough for around 20 people.
“We’re not a big pub, but every table that I’ve moved and calculated, I can get just over 40 people in.
“So not a huge amount, but enough that it’s comfortable, and everyone’s safe.”
In Aldeburgh, a buzz returned to the town with the seafront busy with a mix of day trippers and those staying at the reopened hotels.
About 60% of the businesses were open during the day, with long queues snaking out of the ice cream parlours and fish and chip shops.
Of the pubs, the White Hart Inn was open, with restrictions in place that meant the majority of its clientele were outside or in its beer garden.
Meanwhile, the Brudenell Hotel appeared to be doing a roaring trade on its first weekend back.
As the night went on the pub got busier and busier with between 75-100 people congregating outside, doing their best to keep a social distance from others.
One of the most central pubs in Framlingham opened its doors for the first time yesterday, welcoming people until around 11pm.
Despite reaching capacity on several occasions, pub landlord Darren said that queues never became out of control.
He said: “It went absolutely fine.
“It was a good turnout really, everyone was following the rules and it was quite an enjoyable day.
“We reached capacity a couple of times and there was probably a queue of about 10 or 15 people.
“Some people saw the queue and didn’t bother and some said they would come back later, but generally is was good.”
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