Northumberland publicans delighted with success of outdoor reopening

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Beer gardens across Northumberland have been packed with patrons since outdoor hospitality reopened, much to the delight - and relief - of publicans after a difficult year.

A spell of fine weather along with a pent up desire to get back to the pub and socialise has ensured high demand in many places.

Cafes and restaurants with outdoor space have also enjoyed a busy return to business after the easing of lockdown restrictions on April 12.

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Jake Castleman, who runs the Pig in Muck in Alnwick Market Place, said: "It's been pretty incredible. It's our record week since we opened so we're very happy with how it has gone.

Outdoor hospitality at the Shepherds Rest in Alnwick.Outdoor hospitality at the Shepherds Rest in Alnwick.
Outdoor hospitality at the Shepherds Rest in Alnwick.

"We haven't got much seating inside so our outdoor space is crucial and the weather has definitely helped."

He is also delighted with the feedback he has received from customers.

"It's been great," he said. "I think a lot of people are happy to be able to go out again. It feels much more positive this time.

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"For the last six months the Market Place and Alnwick in general has been a bit of a ghost town so it's lovely so see it returning to life."

On the outskirts of town, Susan Martin from the Shepherds Rest had praise for the way customers have adhered to the rules.

"I am over the moon with the number of people we've had in. We've been very busy and everyone has been absolutely fantastic.

"We've been in this for over a year now so I think people are aware of what is expecting of them so they've been very good at wearing masks when coming in and staying in their seats."

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The coastal strip has also enjoyed a bumper comeback with day trippers heading to hotspots such as Alnmouth, Amble, Bamburgh and Craster.

Georgie Gill, who runs the Red Lion in Alnmouth with her partner Ben McHugh, said: "It's been pretty mental.

"We've had a great first week and have been really busy, helped by sunshine and blue skies.

"We've had people queuing for tables for half an hour or more.

"It's just what we needed as we get going again."

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In Rothbury, Heidi Youngman from the Queens Head, added: "It has been fantastic seeing both regulars and tourists.

"Operating outdoors brings its own challenges, as it is a lot more labour intensive.

"Thank goodness we have an outdoor bar offering our four best selling draft products alongside all other products which are available.

"On the plus side it saves joining a gym, we'll be super fit after five weeks of outdoor trading."

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Customers must order, eat and drink while seated at a table; they must follow the rule of six, or be in a group of any size from two households only; every customer aged 16 and over must check in with NHS test and trace, or provide contact details; when not seated, for example bieng shown to a table, or going to the toilet, customers must wear face masks (unless exempt) and observe social distancing.

Indoor hospitality is scheduled to reopen from May 17 with the next phase of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions

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