'I can’t have it on my conscience' - Pub closes over Covid worries

Paul Sandford, who runs the Railway Tavern, Dereham. Pic: Archant

Paul Sandford, who runs the Railway Tavern, Dereham. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

A popular Norfolk pub has announced it is closing "with immediate effect", following the government’s announcement that Norfolk is to remain in Tier 2.

Dereham’s Railway Tavern said in Facebook Post on Thursday that the pub had come to the “heart-wrenching” decision after “much soul-searching.”

Pub landlord Paul Sandford said that the main reason the pub was closing was because of his concern for people’s health as coronavirus continues to spread, and the rules he has to abide by become increasingly complex. 

“It’s just not workable,” said he said.

“I can’t have it on my conscience. It doesn’t sit well or feel right.” he added.

Mr Sandford said that although a routine inspection of the pub by local authorities last week had found nothing to be wrong, it reminded him of the pandemic’s danger.

“You can do it [enforce the rules] to a certain degree, but you’re totally relying on what people are telling you about where they’ve come from, and then when the alcohol kicks in, that takes it to another level,” he explained.

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He added that despite doing everything he could to keep people safe, “we’re in the middle of a pandemic and ultimately that’s the most important thing: people’s health. I can’t put that in front of me trying to run a business - they won’t go together.”

Mr Sandford stressed that the pub’s fish and chip takeaway would remain open and that people were “still quite welcome to come and sit in the marquee and have their takeaways, in their family groups.”

He said he did not know when the tavern itself would reopen, but it would be closed for the foreseeable future.

In the Facebook post, Mr Sandford said: “As anyone that knows me will tell you, I won’t be beaten. We will be back! When, we don’t know, but rest assured it will be the party to beat all parties!”

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued custom and support.” he added.

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