Relief as Welsh hospitality finally allowed to serve customers at tables again

It's so good to be back – owners and staff in cafes, pubs and restaurants across the Shropshire/Wales border finally caught up with English counterparts yesterday when they were allowed to open beer gardens and outdoor seating to the public.

Enjoying breakfast outdoors at Caffi Wylfa in Chirk were Gill Selley and Andy Tindall
Enjoying breakfast outdoors at Caffi Wylfa in Chirk were Gill Selley and Andy Tindall

The Welsh government lifted restrictions to allow outdoor hospitality to restart, a fortnight after England.

The move came 48 hours after the two family rule for meeting outdoors was changed to allow up to six people meeting up.

The change was welcomed by friends and families who got together yesterday at the Caffi Wylfa cafe in Chirk, many of them enjoying a coffee and something to eat after a walk in the nearby countryside.

Caffi Wylfa, a community interest company, has been selling takeaway drinks and meals and making deliveries, including Sunday lunches, throughout lockdown.

Manager Chris Davies admitted not being able to sleep on Sunday because he was so excited about being able to serve customers at the outside tables.

Keeping the cafe open if only for takeaway has been a lifeline for those living on their own, said pensioner Carole Jones.

She has been using the cafe's takeaway service most days during lockdown as have some of her friends, such as Damien Breen and Jim Heath, finally being able to sit together around a table yesterday.

"I don't know what I would have done without it. Just being able to walk there for a drink and have a chat with other local people has been an absolute lifeline. We have gone out in all weathers, wind, rain even snow," she said.

Meeting up

Four former work colleagues from the Chirk Cadbury factory met to celebrate with a coffee.

Joyce Evans, with her dog, Bob, said: "Caffi Wylfa is the real social hub of Chirk and being able to meet up again, at last, is wonderful."

Colin Davies from Oswestry took his parents, Gwyn and Mallie, for a breakfast at the cafe.

"It is really good to be able to get out across the border and for Wales to have outdoor hospitality at last," he said.

For one table of walking friends from both sides of the border, not only could they meet up for a walk in a six for the first time this year, they could also enjoy a drink at the end of their trek.

Diane and Jim Morris from Oswestry crossed over into Wales for a walk to Chirk Castle with their friends from the Wrexham area before calling into Caffi Wylfa.

Mr Morris said: "Living on the border has been very difficult, trying to work out what we could do or couldn't do with rules different in each country."

Owner Nigel Edwards and staff member Emily Houghton of The Tavern at Chirk

Pubs and restaurants in Chirk were also open for business once again.

Nigel Edwards who runs The Tavern said he was expecting a busy Bank Holiday weekend.

He said the lockdown had been difficult.

"I have been in London working," he said.

"We have had £8,000 from the Government but that is nowhere near enough to get by. We have still had to pay our rent and all our other bills, without bringing any money in. I cleaned out the cellar on Thursday and the feeling was fantastic. We have invested in an outdoor screen on which we will be able to show the sport, from the FA Cup to the Bangor-on-Dee races.

"And we will be able to provide after-match food for our football club and their opponents again."

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