Cheers! Welsh pubs ready to welcome back punters

It has been four long months but pubs in Mid Wales were today finally able to play catch-up with their counterparts across the Shropshire border.

Landlord Mark Jones, and landlady Chelly Jones, at Stanton House Inn, Chirk
Landlord Mark Jones, and landlady Chelly Jones, at Stanton House Inn, Chirk

Wales has been behind England on its own roadmap for re-opening, with the much-anticipated return of outdoor drinking starting from today.

Cafes and restaurants are also covered by the relaxation of the rules, which have caused frustration and consternation for businesses which have been hit by their third major shutdown in the past 12 months.

At the Stanton House Inn in Chirk there have been some major efforts to ensure they can welcome drinkers back today. Licencees Mark and Chelly Jones have converted a former car park into a new outdoor garden – perfect for a relaxing drink in the midst of the mini heatwave hitting the country.

Chelly said: “We worked with the brewery, which laid a lovely floor on the former car park for us. We ourselves have put up fences, planted 400 plants, front and back and put up thousands of fairy lights to give a nice ambiance. It really does look nice. We and the staff are really looking forward to welcoming out customers back. We have been doing takeaways but it is not the same.”

Throughout Wales, tables have been painted, lawns mowed and inside glasses, crockery and cutlery were sparkling as pubs, cafes and restaurants were about to serve customers outdoors for the first time in almost four months.

The principality was two weeks behind England where outdoor drinks and meals were allowed to be served from April 12.

Today's relaxing of restrictions in Wales co-incides with the end to the rule that only two Welsh households can meet up. This weekend saw that eased to six people from up to six households.

Many hospitality businesses have been unhappy that they have had to wait longer and that, they missed the important Easter holiday tourism window.

Mark and Chelly Jones, at Stanton House Inn

At the Stanton House Inn, Mark and Chelly will have a double celebration this week, opening their outdoor tables today and having their second wedding anniversary tomorrow.

The couple's charity and community work in lockdown earned them a letter of thanks from parliament and the Stanton House Inn has also reached the finals of the latest Welsh business awards.

Paul Rogers at The Hand in Chirk said parasols were up on the outside tables and booking were quickly filling up. The hotel also had a gazebo and covered arbour, he said.

Nigel Edwards from Chirk's Tavern said while Sunday lunch takeaways had been a success he was eager to see his customers again.

In Powysm the Horseshoes at Berriew was fully booked for today's lunchtime service several days ago.

Warmer

"We are lucky that we have a wonderful garden in which we can comfortable seat 96 people with social distancing," licensee Darren Ellis-Whitelegg said.

"We are also fully booked for our first Sunday lunch which will be on the Bank Holiday weekend. Initally we will be open 12 noon until 8pm serving food until 6pm. Then as it gets lighter and warmer the hours will extend.

"We and the staff have been looking forward to reopening. It has been the longest winter and so difficult for people stuck inside."

"I really hope that this will be the very last lockdown."

The Kings Head at Guilsfield was celebrating by opening it extended beer garden and recommending that customers book tables - essential for food.

"We also ask that you prepare yourself for the wonderful Welsh weather," it added.

The Glyn Valley Hotel in the Ceiriog Valley was opening its doors - outside - at 11am, with special reopening offers.

During lockdown both outside and inside of the hotel have undergone a revamp.

Many establishments have taken on new staff to coincide with the reopening.

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