'We're over the moon': Northampton pub landlords cannot wait to reopen their beer gardens on Monday

But not all pubs will be serving customers again

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 2:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 2:40 pm

Pub landlords in Northampton say they cannot wait to be able to serve customers once again even if it is outside only for the time being.

Yesterday (Monday, April 5), Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that hospitality could reopen for outside table service from Monday.

Overstone Manor general manager Ross Messinger said: "We're so chuffed, I feel for pubs that can't open and don't have the luxury of a garden as big as ours.

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Overstone Manor
Overstone Manor

"The garden is a huge part of our business at this time of year and if we could choose between serving inside or outside, it would be out as it's a special place so we're over the moon."

Pubs had hoped to be opening again on Monday since the lockdown roadmap was announced in February but last night's confirmation came as a relief to many.

Paul McManus, the director of McManus Pubs, which owns 16 pubs in the town, said it has been a long time coming and staff are looking forward to getting back to work.

"The first lockdown wasn't a novelty but none of us had experienced it before but the third lockdown being the longest and through winter has been mentally tough, however strong you are" he said.

"Some staff will brush it off and others will need more support so they've got to come back in their own way but generally we've found our staff are itching to come back."

Both Paul and Ross said demand for bookings has increased since the prime minister's announcement, even to the point where some pub gardens may be full over the weekend.

Many have been investing in their outdoor areas, with new additions like heaters, umbrellas and furnishings to make them even more welcoming during the cold weather.

Both managers were also against the idea of a covid 'passport' showing whether the holder had had a vaccine, antibodies or a recent negative test as it could exclude many customers.

Ross said: "We're confident especially as our outdoor area is a completely covid-safe environment with social distancing easy to maintain here.

"I think there's more of a risk walking around Lidl or Tesco than sitting in a pub garden so I'm not in favour of a covid passport."

Not all pubs are reopening though - obviously those with no outdoor space have no choice but some with an outside area are choosing not to.

The Old Five Bells landlady Liz Cox said they have decided to wait until they can serve people indoors, hopefully in May, before welcoming customers back because of the financial risk.

"It's just not justifiable for us to open as we can't predict the weather and there are still a lot of restrictions in place like one person in and out for the toilets," she said.

"Being able to staff it is an issue to as I'm self-employed and not part of a big group so I can't afford it - I can't pay for stock then like yesterday it was snowing!"