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‘Worst thing to hit the pub trade since the Second World War’: CAMRA boss on coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 16:57 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 March 2020

Ian Stamp, pictured left, who is the chairman of the Norwich and District branch of CAMRA. Pic: archant

Ian Stamp, pictured left, who is the chairman of the Norwich and District branch of CAMRA. Pic: archant

A boss of consumer group CAMRA spoke for pubs across the region when he said he feared a ‘complete close-down’ because of coronavirus.

Ian Stamp, chairman of the Norwich and District branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, told this newspaper that the virus was the “worst thing to hit the pub trade since the Second World War.”

He predicted the UK could be soon following Europe in a complete lock-down which would see pubs and bars forced to close.

MORE: Pensthorpe cancels Bird Fair because of coronavirus

David and Samantha Burd, at the Stanford Arms. Pic: ArchantDavid and Samantha Burd, at the Stanford Arms. Pic: Archant

Meanwhile publicans from around the region gave a varied picture of how they were coping. Some stated they failed to imagine staying open for much longer but others spoke of a defiant spirit among pub-goers, stating they were still busy.

But with self-isolation for those aged 70 and over on the cards, the future for many pubs, who rely on older customers, is uncertain.

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And unless the government comes up with a support package, publicans could face financial woes because many insurance policies don’t cover losses due to something like coronavirus.

Mr Stamp, who said this week’s CAMRA AGM was cancelled, said: “I can see in the very near future a complete close-down. It’s going to be very tough for pubs. People who lease their pubs are going to find it especially difficult as well as the breweries; I spoke with a brewer recently who said they didn’t know how many orders they would have.

“It’s the worst thing to hit the pub trade since the Second World War. It’s a very bleak picture, and it could go on for a very long time.”

David Burd, owner of the Stanford Arms in Lowestoft, said his pub could be closed within weeks. “It has been a steady decline, and if we have another week like the last one, where we were almost a third down, then we’ll be shut in two weeks. There’s no point staying open when we can’t break even. People just aren’t coming in.

“No one in the government ever does anything to help. We are just a cash cow for VAT.”

Mary-Ann Stuart, one of the directors at the Lighthouse Inn in Walcott, north Norfolk, said: “We are very concerned about it. We’ve taken all the steps that we can with regards to hygiene. We have a Tuesday lunch club for OAPS, and they have understandably cancelled for the next few weeks.”

Paul Sandford at The Railway Tavern in Dereham, said: “We have already seen an effect on our business with people cancelling parties and events.”

But a spokesman at the Sir Garnet, Market Place, Norwich, said: “We had a very busy weekend, our pub has been full.”

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