Alnwick publicans and cafe owners delighted to welcome customers back indoors
Alnwick publicans and cafe owners have given a warm welcome to the reopening of indoor hospitality – and now have their fingers crossed that there will be no further setbacks.
Concerns remain that further restrictions could still be imposed should there be a spike in cases caused by the Indian variant.
Scott Doherty, owner of The Black Swan on Narrowgate, said: “It’s been an absolute nightmare of a year. We’ve been closed for nine months out of the last 12 and you still have to pay rent and staff. It's cost me £1,500 a month to be closed.
"The fact we can now reopen inside and welcome customers back is great but the government could have helped us out a lot more. It’s still not the case that everything is back to normal.”
But Sophie Browell, manager, added: “Everyone has been really excited to be back in the warm. I know I felt like it was Christmas Eve last night.”
Jackie McDougall, landlady at The Bluebell Inn on Clayport Street, said: "I’m loving being back open again. It’s just like old times.
"I’ve not slept properly all week. You don’t really know what to expect when you open the doors and our customers are the same but they’ve been buzzing to be back.”
Although the pub has a beer garden, Jackie decided against opening for outdoor trade when the last restrictions were eased on April 12.
“It now feels like the right time,” she said. “I am slightly scared about what might come with the Indian strain but there are a lot of people here who have already had their second Covid injections so hopefully we’re in good stead to prevent another spike. It’s great that people are now relatively free do go out and about now.”
Susan Martin was also pleased to be able to welcome customers back to The George Inn on Bondgate Within.
She said: “It’s nice to have our regulars back. We’ve only got limited space here so I’m hopeful that by June 21 (the next phase of the government’s roadmap to reopening) that we’ll be allowed to get a few more people in.”
David Hogg, owner of the Olive Branch Cafe on Market Street, has had the benefit of an outdoor trading space in recent weeks but he was still delighted to welcome customers back inside.
He said: “It’s nice to be able to have people inside again. The outdoor tables have been good for us but the awning is no good when the rain is coming in horizontally!”
The new rules at pubs and restaurants include: It is table service only; customers will not be able to order from the bar; drinkers and diners must comply with a toughening of the test and trace rules; guests must observe the rule of six when inside the venue, which allows half a dozen people from different households to meet – or more if they come from two different households.