Bad weather dampens trade at Shropshire beer gardens

There's no doubt that pubs, restaurants and cafes across the county have enjoyed welcoming back customers over the past month.

Darren Wood, landlord of The New Inn, Newport
Darren Wood, landlord of The New Inn, Newport

But eating and drinking al fresco since April 12 - when coronavirus lockdown measures eased during the second step of the government's roadmap - has come with its own challenges, and the bad weather in recent days has dampened trade.

Some hospitality venues say May 17 can't come soon enough – the date customers are expected to be allowed to enjoy a pint and meal indoors.

Darren Wood, landlord of the New Inn in Newport, said his pub has been doing well since reopening but is only serving drinks for the time-being, as its chefs are still on furlough.

"Trade has been relatively good – it's been nice and steady," Mr Wood said.

"It was nice to see people again and it went very well, but it starts to slow up when it gets colder in the evenings. It's weather dependent.

"We have 22 socially-distanced tables outside but only six are undercover."

However, Mr Wood says he has been forced to shut the pub on some days this week due to the weather and is watching the forecast closely every day.

He said he understood the frustration by some at only being able to open outdoors under current restrictions, which has left certain venues unable to reopen at all due to limited space.

Darren Wood, landlord of The New Inn, Newport

But he added: "There's no point forcing it and rushing it but it has been a long 12 months. Hospitality needs that reassurance of people being able to sit inside again.

"It can't come quick enough for the industry."

Nicola Gow, deputy manager at The Armoury, in Shrewsbury, said trade had been going well since reopening, although there had been a downturn during the rainy and windy weather.

She said: "We didn't really know what to expect, with everything going on we didn't know if people would be ready to go out.

"It was really successful when we first opened. It's nice to get back in the swing of things.

"The weather helped to begin with but with the weather the last few days it has been a lot quieter.

At The Armoury in Shrewsbury, Nicola Gow, deputy manager with manager Tom Skone

"We can only have parasols outside. They have been really helpful but it's also been windy.

"We are looking forward to opening inside. Hopefully we will be ready for it now we've had a bit of practice."

With the expected easing of lockdown restrictions in England on May 17, pubs and hospitality should be able to serve customers inside, cinemas and theatres will be allowed to reopen along with other indoor attractions, and hotels can open their doors again.

At pubs, restaurants and cafes, as outdoors, table service will be still be required with people urged to check in advance and pre-book a table.

Venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, nor will there be a curfew.

However, customers will have to order, eat and drink while seated.

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