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Businesses shut as coronavirus hits trade in Bishop's Stortford town centre



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The coronavirus has caused the closure of businesses in Bishop's Stortford town centre.

Bill's in North Street shut its doors at 7pm on Thursday (March 19) as did its near neighbour Prezzo in the former George Hotel while Empire Cinema in Anchor Steet showed its last film on Wednesday evening before laying off staff.

In Market Square, Rosey Lea has shuttered its cafe to concentrate services at Wickham Hall and the Gin Palace in Church Street is preparing to pour its last drinks next Saturday (March 28) after two years' trading.

Prezzo
Prezzo

A spokesman for Bill's nationally said: "It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that due to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the advice from our government and the World Health Organisation, we are left with no option but to close Bill's Restaurants as of 7pm on Thursday, March 19, until further notice.

"This extraordinary measure has been taken in the interest of both employee and guest safety which are of utmost importance to us.

"We look forward to reopening, when we are able, and to welcoming you back to the restaurant."

Rosey Lea
Rosey Lea

Karen Jones, executive chairman of Prezzo, said: "After the Government stated last Monday that people should avoid restaurants, it was always going to be a question of when, not if, we would need to close our doors for a time."

At Rosey Lea, owner Leanne Gregory made it clear the closure in Market Square was temporary. The Wickham Hall branch remains open from 11am to 3pm with a focus on takeaway deliveries, which are free within a six-mile radius and safe food collections. NHS workers can pick up a free hot drink from the outlet.

She said: "There have so far been no job losses, luckily for us, most of our team are students or mothers who are now off looking after their children. I intend to keep it that way and my team and I are working very hard. I am very lucky to have such amazing people around me and we are like a little family, I could not be prouder of them and I couldn't do this without them."

She founded the company eight years ago and urged customers to support local businesses where possible during the crisis.

Mountain Warehouse
Mountain Warehouse

Other businesses, like Jackson's Square's Clarks shoe shop, have cut their operating hours and some traders are contemplating a grim future as the pandemic keeps customers away.

The boss of outdoor clothing chain Mountain Warehouse, which has a branch in Potter Street, is considering cutting 2,000 staff as sales plummet.

Founder Mark Neale said sales had "evaporated" with a 50% drop in trade.



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