Peterborough pubs and restaurants react to July 19 lifting of restrictions

The end to coronavirus restrictions on July 19 has been welcomed by Peterborough’s hard hit pubs and restaurants.

By Brad Barnes
Thursday, 8th July 2021, 5:05 am
The Yard of Ale
The Yard of Ale

There remains a sense that things might return to normal slowly, after so-called “Freedom Day”, but one pub boss has called for people to “grasp the opportunity with both hands.”

Darren Peachey, who runs the Venture Pub Company, and operates The Cross Keys, The Dragon, The Dragonfly and The Limetree in Peterborough as well as the George and Angel in Crowland, said he felt the time was right.

“It’s great to hear that restrictions will be lifted,” he said. “We as an industry have taken the brunt of all this for too long. Huge disparities between what you can do as a customer in a pub and everywhere else has taken its toll on our staff and our business as a whole.

Gurkha Lounge at Hampton. EMN-170512-092020009

“Nothing made sense. You can’t stand in a pub but you can everywhere else? You can’t stand at a bar but you can stand at tills at all shops and gyms etc? The science behind it all has been misinterpreted or mishandled.

“I believe that the government have made the right move. We are as a country in the best position I believe we ever will be to remove restrictions. Fully vaccinated and back to business.

“We have to move forward and live with covid or we will be accepting defeat and living like we have been for many more years to come. I don’t believe anyone wants that.

“If anyone is still nervous about the virus or hesitant to move forward now, then they should proceed with caution, but the people that want a normal life again should grasp this opportunity with both hands.”

Angela Hopkin, who runs The Yard of Ale on Oundle Road, said she was looking forward to July 19 after a difficult time for all pubs.

“We are all very excited about Freedom Day,” she said. “We have worked tirelessly to abide by the covid rules and regulations. Work over the past few months has been extremely difficult, but we are delighted that we can go back to bar service and let people move fluidly about the pub.

“I think people are still wary about the return especially if they haven’t visited since lockdown. Many others cannot wait to return to normality. We will welcome anyone who still wears a face mask and indeed some of my staff may also wear them to for they’re own protection.

Hopefully we can all stay safe and keep the economy afloat in the future.”

Tom Beran, who has run The Bumble Inn micropub in Westgate, for five years, said he too felt some people might continue to be wary, as they have been under restrictions, but that others will be equally happy to have the restrictions removed.

“It kind of feels like starting over again, and reminding people what a great place a pub can be,” he said.

Goretti Lobato, who owns Mattoni restaurants in Hampton Vale and Eye village is relieved the restrictions are ending and is looking forward to the changes ahead.

“It’s a huge change and one my staff and myself welcome,” she said.

“We will still have measures in place as my staff need to be safe and customers to feel safe, and wearing a mask will be up to each staff member, whatever makes them feel safe or comfortable.

“Secondly we won’t need to justify to anyone as to why a customer isn’t wearing a mask, we no longer need to worry about how close people are sitting , so it’s most definitely a relief to not be judged or criticised.

“My staff have been working sometimes 10 hours straight with a mask and it’s been hard. We’ve had to explain to customers our covid procedures over and over again, putting us all on edge . No one wants to work in those conditions.”

Paul Sharma opened the city centre’s 2020 World Buffet in New Road just as first lockdown kicked in last March, so has endured quite a stop-start 15 months.

He said he was hopeful that this time his restaurant can kick-on.

“We survived and it’s time to thrive and hopefully the striving days will come,” he said.

“We are positive and hopeful that we can contribute our sincere efforts towards the community as well by creating more local jobs too.”

Prem Devkota, who runs the Gurkha Durbaar restaurant in nearby Broadway, welcomed the decision and was similarly buoyed by the prospects after July 19.

“I am very hopeful now for our business,” said Prem, who wasn’t able to take advantage of the alfresco dining opportunities in April because of a lack of space.

“As long as the situation doesn’t get worse we have another chance. Let’s hope there is not another lockdown.”

Krishna Kris, who own The Gurkha Lounge in Hampton Vale, relied on takeaway business during lockdown and has more recently been open under the current restrictions. He is celebrating Freedom Day on July 19 by offering his own “Eat Out To Help Out” deal - 50 per cent off (up to £10) for diners.

He said: “I think it’s about time, the hospitality sector really needed freedom now!

“Obviously we still have to be careful because virus still here but we need to start living our life too.”