Hospitality businesses braced for change after face mask announcement
- Credit: PA/Mick Howes/Sonya Duncan/Liz Coates
Hospitality bosses have vowed to follow whatever restrictions may be introduced in the run-up to Christmas after Boris Johnson's announcement.
Concern over the Omicron variant in England, which has been identified in Essex and Nottingham, led the prime minister to set out new measures, including the compulsory wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport.
But pubs and restaurants were spared from any tougher restrictions, although those in the industry are braced for change.
Seafood restaurant and bar owner Mark Gee, who opened the doors to Mark G at the Old Blue Anchor in Lowestoft in September, said the business is preparing for tougher restrictions in the weeks ahead.
He said: "We are waiting for something to happen.
"We are still wearing masks in the restaurant anyway because we feel we need to, so nothing really changed.
"We are aware we could go into some sort of lockdown if this new variant is thought to be more spreadable and we will have things in place if that happens, such as doing takeaways.
"I do feel we probably should have kept wearing masks everywhere.
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"I don't think that would have hurt anyone and it seems quite a lot of people have stopped wearing them in supermarkets, even the staff."
Jodie Barrett, manager at the Locks Inn Community Pub in Geldeston, said staff were prepared to follow whatever rules were introduced for hospitality businesses.
She said: "We are just taking it as it comes one day at a time, that's all anyone can do.
"The new variant is quite worrying and everyone is worried how it will affect Christmas, but we have to keep going and stick to the rules.
"If they get tougher then we will follow them and do what we can to keep the doors open.
"We are trying to stay positive."
Simon Musk, who recently reopened The Albion in Great Yarmouth a year after a car ploughed into the building's entrance, said customers were encouraged to take precautions.
He said: "We have Track and Trace in place that we suggest customers use, and we are keeping on top of the cleanliness, especially at key touch points.
"We're also advising people if we are particularly busy to wear face masks.
"I don't think if these rules do apply to us later that it will make much difference to our day-to-day.
"I'm not Boris Johnson so I don't know if it should apply to us or not, but we would welcome it if it comes in."