'Famine to feast' for Beccles pub during Euros, but nerves for freedom day
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Euro 2020 sent one town's pub "from famine to feast", but bosses are already preparing for another lockdown as cases rise.
Fans had flocked to the Ingate, in Beccles, throughout the tournament, with landlady Michelle Payne saying earlier this month staff had been "busier than ever."
Ahead of England's quarter-final clash with Ukraine, the pub began operating a booking system after some pubs in the area stopped showing the games.
Mrs Payne said: "Now the Euros buzz has diminished, we are all feeling a slight relief after the stress of both Covid regulations and keeping the fans and customers safe and happy.
"With the restrictions, organising entry and preventing overcrowding was incredibly hard, harder than anyone could comprehend.
"We had abuse for not just letting everybody onto the premises, had to restrict to wristband entry after other pubs had fighting and bad behaviour to make sure our staff were protected.
"Financially though, after being hard hit with closures for so long, it was famine to feast."
The delay to 'freedom day' meant restrictions remained in place throughout the tournament despite hopes they would have been eased in time for England's final group game in June, with the latest changes now coming into force on Monday.
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Mrs Payne said: "Pressure is mounting for publicans to continue with the Covid safety rules.
"As cases are drastically on the rise, with outbreaks in Beccles, we are very apprehensive on lifting measures.
"We are expecting another lockdown on the cards, trying to remain positive, and hope people are responsible.
"We will still try our utmost to create an environment that is a happy place for people to visit and enjoy.
"Our staff need protection because without them there is no pub.
"Pool will be back as will darts, as if you are in a group you will already be seated with that group, so we may as well get back to play.
"We are, however, looking forward to having our entertainment back, with disco bingo on Thursdays and music, oh how we have missed music."
The landlady confirmed bar stools will not be returning to the bar, with table service set to resume indoors, while the wearing of masks will be personal choice.
Police: Fans 'generally well behaved'
Suffolk Police confirmed fans were generally well behaved across Suffolk during and after England's penalty heartbreak, despite receiving an increased number of calls following the final.
A spokesperson said the majority of fans were "good natured" and there were "no serious issues" reported.
They added: "The majority of these were related to rowdy behaviour outside licensed premise or in town centre areas.
"In terms of reported issues, on the whole the atmosphere was generally good natured before and during the match, with no serious issues reported afterwards.
"We want to thank football fans and licensees across Suffolk for their support in celebrating the Euros over the past month in a responsible and peaceful way.
"Although the final result wasn't what England fans would have hoped for, it is pleasing to see that throughout the tournament the vast majority showed respect and consideration for other football fans and members of the public."