The Old Duke in Bristol city centre shuts before Christmas as Covid cases surge

A surge in Covid-19 infections in Bristol has seen a popular pub and music venue shut for Christmas – usually its busiest time of the year.

Landlord of the Old Duke, Stewart Seydel, says he has seen four times the number of people he knows being infected with the virus in the last two weeks compared to the whole 21 months of the pandemic so far.

And the last straw came when a staff member took a lateral flow test this morning and tested positive.

READ MORE:Bristol sees HUGE jump in daily Covid-19 cases

Mr Seydel said: “It was becoming really worrying. Just among the people I know, I’ve seen more people come down with it in the last week or two than I did for the whole of the rest of the pandemic. I’ve known five or six people to get it before and I know 20-odd people who have got it recently.

“It just felt like we were putting the staff, and the bands who play here, and the customers more at risk, and there’s no good reason for that.”

A notice on the website of the historic King Street pub says: “In the interest of the safety of our staff, bands, and customers, we have decided to close until December 27 at the earliest.

“We will re-assess the situation on the 26th and hopefully see you on the 27th.

“Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. We hope you all have a safe and Merry Christmas.”

Mr Seydel added it was a decision taken quickly this morning: “I was in with a member of staff, and we did a lateral flow test and they came up positive.

“They weren’t positive yesterday, and we don’t know how they got it. It just felt like the most sensible thing to do. We made a decision by lunchtime – the band that was coming to play this afternoon showed up and we had to turn them away.”

The landlord added that many customers were already staying away as cases surge and fears abound over the new seemingly super-transmissible Omicron variant.

He said: “Staff were getting anxious about catching it before Christmas as well.

“This just seems the most sensible thing to do at the moment. I hope we will be open again on the 27th, with a gig by the Severn Jazzmen.

“I hope we’ll be able to resume our normal programme assuming there are no further restrictions brought in.”

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