Pubs 'confident' of keeping fans safe ahead of expected Euro 2020 crowds
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Huge crowds are expected at Suffolk pubs over the coming month as England prepare to kick off their campaign at the delayed Euro 2020 tournament.
Venues across the county are preparing to welcome supporters ahead of the Three Lions' first fixture against Croatia on Sunday.
Euro 2020 was initially scheduled for last summer but was delayed due to the Covid pandemic — and pubs will be required to enforce strict guidelines for at least the first 10 days of the tournament.
But on Monday, the government is due to make a decision on whether to lift all Covid measures on June 21.
Ipswich Waterfront pub Isaacs has brought in extra door staff for the tournament, has rearranged its courtyard and will be opening up private function rooms for families.
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Amy Coughlan, the pub's business development manager, said she was "feeling confident" in keeping customers safe throughout the tournament.
She added: "All England games we have done by booking online — we've nearly sold out for Sunday's game.
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"But we are waiting for next week's announcement about June 21 to see what we will be doing after then. We will let our customers know."
The Railway Tavern in Saxmundham, managed by Paul and Julie Summers, has pinned the flags of all 24 competing nations to its ceiling to commemorate the tournament.
Mr Summers said: "It will be our first tournament — we're so excited.
"People will come in and have to be seated, but every seat is covered by a telly. That is all we can do at the moment.
"We've been doing really well with preparing, and the police and council have been really happy with what we've done."
Penny Youngs-Debnam, landlord of the Kingfisher in Chantry, is another who has decorated her pub with a range of England memorabilia.
She said: "We will be running on a first come, first served basis. Once we've hit capacity, we will be shutting the front door.
"We are preparing quite well and have TVs installed all over the venue.
"The weather will help us massively. From what we have seen, we are expecting quite a big crowd."
Ahead of the big kick-off, Suffolk police Chief Inspector Matt Carney previously warned "there is no excuse for abusive behaviour" and urged fans to be responsible if watching the tournament at a pub.
He said: "The Euros bring joy and anguish, in equal measures, to fans and we encourage everyone to enjoy the tournament but remember to be considerate, mindful and tolerant of others."
What Covid rules are in place at pubs?
After England moved to step three of the roadmap out of lockdown on May 17, pubs and restaurants were allowed to serve their first indoor customers in months.
But venues still have to follow a number of strict rules until the next stage of the roadmap — which could see all restrictions lifted altogether.
Pub-goers currently have to remain seated while inside and must wear a mask whenever they stand up to leave or use the toilet.
The 'rule of six' on social gatherings remains in place for indoor customers, but the limit is raised to 30 people outdoors.
Social distancing between groups is encouraged and venue's capacities are restricted to what is possible with table service.
All customers over the age of 16 are also asked to 'check-in' using the NHS Test and Trace app.
Stage four of the roadmap could be taken on June 21 — but there are concerns this may be pushed back amid rising case numbers.