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Publicans in Bishop's Stortford area playing it safe after Covid restrictions eased




Pubs in the Bishop's Stortford area are getting back to a “cautious normality” after the last of the coronavirus restrictions were eased by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday (July 19).

After desperate times for the hospitality industry which has seen establishments closed for long periods during pandemic lockdowns, publicans are hoping for a summer bounce to get them back on track.

At the Cock Inn at Hockerill in Bishop’s Stortford, publican Adam Curtis admitted he was wary and many Covid-safe measures would remain, with a message of “normality with a lot of caution”.

The Cock Inn at Hockerill: “People will be able to get drinks from the bar, but we support what customers are comfortable with."
The Cock Inn at Hockerill: “People will be able to get drinks from the bar, but we support what customers are comfortable with."

“People will be able to get drinks from the bar, but we support what customers are comfortable with,” said Adam, who added he and his team would continue to have twice-weekly lateral flow tests. “We would ask our customers to be sensible."

The Cock has enjoyed a fruitful few weeks, with screenings of Euro 2020 football matches good for business and improvements in the garden a “godsend”.

It was a similar story at some of the other pubs in town. Michelle Brace, manager of the Wheatsheaf in Northgate End, said customers would still be able to request table service as there would be people who “couldn’t think of anything more worrying” than having to push their way through crowds to get a drink.

Wheatsheaf publican Michelle Brace says table service will still be available for wary customers. Picture: Vikki Lince
Wheatsheaf publican Michelle Brace says table service will still be available for wary customers. Picture: Vikki Lince

Heydon Mizon, joint managing director at Hertford brewer and pub chain McMullen, which runs five pubs in the Stortford and Sawbridgeworth area, told the Indie they were delighted to see “continued progress on the country’s journey to recovery”.

NHS Track and Trace would still be available at pubs, but not mandatory, and “enhanced and continuous hygiene standards would be maintained and ventilation increased”.

The company – which runs the Nag’s Head in Dunmow Road and Dog’s Head in Market Square in Stortford, the Coach and Horses at Thorley Street and Sawbridgeworth's Orange Tree and George IV – will support guests and staff who wish to wear face masks.

“We will allow bar service but all pubs also have an order-and-pay app and most pubs offer full table service,” said Mr Mizon.

At McMullen pubs, including the Nag's Head in Dunmow Road, NHS Track and Trace is still available but not mandatory.
At McMullen pubs, including the Nag's Head in Dunmow Road, NHS Track and Trace is still available but not mandatory.

Cut-price pub chain JD Wetherspoon, which runs the Port Jackson in Riverside Wharf, Bishop’s Stortford, will revert to restrictions agreed with the authorities after the first lockdown last year.

These include the retention of screens between tables and on bar areas, and hand sanitisers at entrances and around customer and staff areas. Capacity in the pub will continue to be restricted to the number of seats and natural ventilation will be encouraged by keeping doors and windows open as much as possible.

At the Black Lion in Bridge Street, manager Michael Owen reported things were back to normal, and although staff and customers had the option to wear masks, people were not bothering. The pub had a DJ for Monday’s grand reopening and the evening had gone “swimmingly”, he said.

Capacity at Wetherspoon's Port Jackson will continue to be restricted to the number of seats
Capacity at Wetherspoon's Port Jackson will continue to be restricted to the number of seats


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