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Zizzi reopens in Salisbury eight months after Novichok attack

Sergei and Yulia Skripal dined at the restaurant on the day they were poisoned. Credit: PA

Zizzi is to reopen its Salisbury restaurant on Tuesday, eight months after it was caught up in the poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter.

The site where Sergei and Yulia Skripal dined just hours before being discovered unconscious from a nerve agent attack has been shut since March.

It is due to open on Tuesday following an extensive refurbishment.

An officer passes a barrier erected by police outside the Zizzi restaurant Credit: PA

Speaking to the Press Association, Zizzi operations director Phil Boyd described the days following the attack as “very difficult” and “quite confusing”.

“After the incident we were concerned about the welfare of our staff and to our relief everyone was well.”

All staff were kept on full pay during the closure period, with those who were able to work further afield transferring to nearby branches including Winchester and Southampton.

More than half the original staff will return to work on Tuesday, including the restaurant’s manager and head chef.

The developments following the poisoning in March. Credit: PA Graphics

Tuesday’s reopening will be marked with a special event at which diners can pay as much as they like for a meal from the new menu. All proceeds will go to local Salisbury charities.

Tourism in Salisbury has suffered in the wake of the nerve agent attack, with footfall in the cathedral city down 12.5% in July.

For Salisbury it is a significant step forward and shows the city centre has returned to normal

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The refurbished Zizi's in Sailsbury. Credit: Zizi/PA

The government has pledged more than £7.5 million over the months since the attack to support the city’s recovery and pay for the extra costs involved in responding to the incident in Salisbury and in nearby Amesbury where Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with Novichok.

Alistair Cunningham, chairman of the South Wiltshire Recovery Co-ordinating Group said: “We are so pleased Zizzi is reopening in time for the build up to Christmas. For Salisbury it is a significant step forward and shows the city centre has returned to normal and has moved on from the events of this year.

“Work continues to restore visitor confidence and provide support to local traders and businesses. The reopening of Zizzi is at the start of a programme of events and initiatives to promote Christmas in Salisbury and encourage shoppers, visitors and tourists to come to the city and enjoy all it has to offer.”