By Rachael Grealish
After months indoors, then only being allowed a pint or dinner outside, many people are rightly excited to see restrictions change – but they’re not the only ones.
Business owners around Cumbria have been eager to welcome customers back for some time and even more so now they can have them indoors from today, Monday May 17.
The Herdwick News asked several hospitality business owners how they were feeling about the changes and there was a common theme throughout the replies; relief.
Charles Wood, owner of the Grey Goat Inn, in Baggrow, talked about the frustration of the previous restrictions and the ‘overwhelming’ relief of lockdown changes v
He said: “It’s been a frustrating five weeks having people outside. The relief tomorrow is quite overwhelming. Most of the COVID-19 rules don’t make sense so we ready ourselves and get ready for the warm welcome.
“Don’t get me wrong our 200 capacity beer garden has done great but it’s too cold for nightime drinking.”
Alison Davies, owner of Carlisle Brewing Co and The Spinners Arms, in Cummersdale, said she was ‘looking forward’ to welcoming all her customers back, however, she talked about the tremendous effort the business has gone through to be able to stay open through the different restrictions.
“Hospitality has been hit so hard this last year,” she said, “As a pub and brewery owner, we’ve seen both sides of the supply chain.
“The constant changing restrictions on our business has meant we have had to stay on our toes the whole way through, not just dealing with being open or closed, working out whether to bring staff back or keep them on furlough, ensuring all covid responsibilities were in place but also having to change business models almost on a monthly basis.
“It’s brilliant being able to reopen, seeing customers again, catching up, getting great satisfaction out of seeing people reunite with family and friends, that’s why we’re in hospitality in the first place but there’s the flip side, shorter opening times, social distancing meaning less people in the pub equalling less income but with higher costs, needing more staff for table service.”
Although Alison said she is feeling positive about the reopening she also speculated on the difficulties other businesses have been through, still have to go through and the support many will still need in the coming year.
“I do worry for those in the trade who have still paid rent with no income, taking on loans to cover costs,” she continued, “That money has to come from somewhere and I do feel that without more support, the next 12 months are going to be problematic.
“There’s always the fear hanging over us that we’ll go into another lockdown. On a brighter note, the lockdown has seen some places rise to the occasion finding new ways to supply customers – we moved to home deliveries this year, which has raised our brewery profile in our local area tremendously.
“We’re really looking forward to welcoming customers back inside and keeping our fingers crossed that we get back to the old normal soon.”
These lockdown changes are the most significant since Brits were put into their third, and hopefully final, lockdown back in December.
From today indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen and six people or two households can meet indoors.
Read all the latest changes to the measures here and let us know what you think of the lockdown easing.