'Alcohol and common sense don't always go hand in hand' - many Lancaster pubs and restaurants due to re-open on July 4
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced pubs, restaurants, hotels, museums, galleries, and other venues will be allowed to re-open on July 4 as long as they have certain guidelines in place.
Pubs in Lancaster and Morecambe have already been gearing up to re-open in what is now just 11 days time - and the new one metre social distancing rule will be welcomed by many.
This will mean that pubs and other venues will be able to allow more people into the premises at any one time, making it easier for them to cover costs or turn a profit.
But it won't all be plain sailing, as there will be no bar service, and people are likely to have to book a table in advance and in some cases order via an App, with time limits on the length of stay too.
Some pubs will not be able to re-open due to the size of their premises.
Dominic Leighton, landlord of the Three Mariners in St George's Quay, Lancaster, said: "It's been gratifying to hear that pubs are finally getting to reopen their doors, though making that safe for staff and customers is now going to be the ongoing challenge.
"Performing table service and taking the details of customers should be a bare minimum within that, and I hope that people respond well to the changes.
"There's still a pressing worry that the UK isn't in the same position as other countries who've reopened hospitality though, and I think reducing the two metre rule will actually make things harder to stay on top of.
"Two metres is a relatively large distance, but once people are a few pints in I can see the 'one metre or more' spacing becoming problematic.
"As Mr Johnson states, we have to rely on the common sense of the British public, but alcohol and common sense don't always go hand in hand."
The John O' Gaunt, in Market Street, is set to re-open to the public on July 6, with a warm up weekend on July 4 and 5 by invite/booking only.
The pub said: "We are excited to see you all, however we respectfully request that anyone visiting adheres to the distancing guidelines of one metre or more.
"Hand sanitizer stations are available around the pub including on entry."
The Borough, in Dalton Square, will open for food, drink and rooms on Saturday July 4.
Landlady Hannah Horner said: "We have made the most of this difficult time to make the business more safe and friendly as well as introducing new health and safety measures.
"We have also vastly reduced our carbon footprint by introducing induction cooking equipment and putting together a new Summer menu full of fresh local, seasonal produce.
"As a food business we are used to operating with high standards of cleanliness and these have only been enhanced for the future.
"We want to thank everyone who has supported us with wine or beer deliveries or by buying gift vouchers, now is the time to enjoy using them!
"We will be introducing full table service throughout the business to offer a high standard of personal service and can’t wait to welcome back old and new customers again."
The Brew House at Cross Bay Brewery, on the White Lund Industrial Estate, will be re-opening at 11am on July 4.
The venue said it had nine indoor seating areas, 16 outdoor seating areas and four massive outdoor screens - and that it had installed seating for 100 people while in lockdown.
Lancaster Brewery has also been making changes and improvements to its indoor and outdoor provision.
Pressure group the Campaign for Pubs has called for support to save thousands of smaller pubs, until trading gets back to normal post Covid-19.
They say licensees and brewers are making clear that 11 days notice is simply not enough – especially with the government now expecting pubs to collect customer data.
A spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister’s announcement also stated that bar service is banned, something that is of course standard in all pubs, and that pubs can only operate table service.
"The announcement also stated that the Government are expecting pubs to collect customer data, and have pledged to help pubs to do so."
They have put together 10 points to save pubs, including a relaxation of licensing restrictions, a rent-free period for all pubs, and continued financial support who work at pubs that are unable to viably or safely trade.
The spokesman added: "The details of this help need to be released very urgently, because with some pubs set to open in just 11 days, the unprecedented task of such data collection and management may prove an insurmountable burden on small businesses that have already had to invest in alterations to allow opening in reduced trade."
Mike Dent, owner of micropub Accidental Brewery in Lancaster, said he had put his efforts into a take away and delivery service since pubs closed in March.
He said: "We'd started doing home delivery via Uber Eats just before lockdown.
"Once we had to close all together we decided to put all our effort in to supplying our great customer base with the best craft beer we could source.
"Within 24 hours I'd created a web site for online orders, and roped my brother in to doing local home deliveries.
"We pretty much ditched Uber Eats as we could do it better and more reliably.
"We soon added nationwide delivery and now we offer click and collect pickups from the back door with growler fills.
"Our once bustling bar has now become a packing and picking area with extra fridges and cold store. We will be taking stock of todays announcement and contemplating our next move."
When news of the lockdown hit, Pablo Aguilar, owner of new Lancaster venue Kanteena, in Lodge Street, leaned on his culinary expertise to ensure Kanteena remained open with a new food delivery service ‘Kan Deliver’ which has been operating in the surrounding areas of Lancaster since March.
The delivery service has been described as a "huge success" so the venue will continue to run this from Thursday - Sunday every week.
Kanteena itself will re-open on July 4, making use of its large outdoor space, with food, drinks, a ping pong tabl and DJs on rotation.
A new weekly Farmers Market will open from July 9 and will continue every Thursday from 4pm.
Pablo said he will be welcoming in a cohort of local independent traders and encouraging customers to support and buy local, with top quality homegrown produce showcased every week.
The Whale Tail Cafe in Lancaster has also announced it will be re-opening on Saturday, July 4 at 9am.
Tricia and the team at the Penny Street cafe and restaurant said: "In line with current restrictions we will have to put in place certain changes to keep us all safe.
"We will greet you upon your arrival in the cafe and allocate a table to you.
"Instead of counter service we shall take your order at your table.
"We would ask that you wear masks at all times unless sitting at your table. There will be hand sanitizer throughout the building which we would urge you to use .
"We shall be offering a reduced, but glorious, menu initially and adding to as we all get used to our new normal.
"We look forward to welcoming you back, we missed you and hope we can move forward safely, respectfully and with good humour."
Malcolm Ireland, head of leisure at Cumbria-based regional law firm Napthens, says the government’s latest announcement means planning can finally take place towards reopening the leisure sector.
However, adhering to the new guidelines will be key to restoring trust in customers.
Applying the new guidance safely will regain trust and help businesses return to growth, he said.
He said: “Reducing the social distancing limit to one metre plus will be welcomed by all pubs and owners in the leisure industry as a more manageable way of reopening businesses.
However, we know that large parts of the public are still wary about the lifting of restrictions.
“Since the measures will take the form of guidance rather than regulation, there will be a temptation for some operators to stop short of full compliance.
"However, adhering to the guidelines will help to instil more confidence in customers that popping to the pub or booking a table at a restaurant is safe.
“For many pubs, that will require a rethink of how the business operates, whether through an ordering app, rearranging the premises, retraining bar staff as waiters and legally collecting data and understanding how to process it in line with GDPR regulations.
“Adhering to all of the guidelines is a tough ask for pubs and restaurants, particularly with less than a fortnight before they reopen, but sticking to them will help regain customer confidence in the long term.”