Portsmouth pubs and restaurants 'excited' to finally be able to let customers inside from next week
VENUES are ‘excited’ to be gearing up for the easing of lockdown restrictions next week as prime minister Boris Johnson is set to give the green light this evening.
Covid rules are expected to be lifted from May 17 as part of the government’s roadmap to easing Covid rules.
The relaxation of rules will include pubs being allowed to serve punters inside again. Venues will offer table service only, with the rule of six in place for diners and punters.
Indoor entertainment, such as theatres, cinema and museums, will also be allowed to open their doors again after months of closure.
Pub landlords told The News the move was a major boost - especially places with no outside areas not yet open.
Garry Disdle, landlord of the Sir Loin of Beef on Highland Road, Southsea, said: ‘It’s good news for us as we can finally open and get some customers back in.
‘It will be a busy first few weeks. The feedback I’ve been getting from people and friends is positive with them saying they will be coming here.
‘It has been hard financially for us as we were not entitled to any grants because we took over the pub half way through the last lockdown after leaving our previous pub.
‘We will not be operating bookings as before we’ve had people book and not turn up so it will be first come first serve.’
Those already open said they expected profits to be boosted by the move.
Tom Yaman, landlord of the Duke of Devonshire on Albert Road, Southsea, said: ‘It will be very good but we still have to be careful and make sure we follow the rule of six.
‘We are going to be full of people and our punters are really looking forward to it. We will just have to watch numbers. We have three doors which we will use and the windows will be open.’
Tom said he has now recruited three new members of staff following The News’ story on Saturday where landlords highlighted the difficulties of employing staff. ‘We had lots of people applying after the article,’ he said.
‘With table service and serving people inside it is important we have the new staff to help out.’
Tom added how after the original lockdown eight staff got furlough for five months before three left of their own accord. But with a new 11-strong team the pub was ‘looking forward’ to fully reopening again.
Fellow Albert Road pub The Kings is also preparing to welcome customers back inside from Monday.
Sean Muns, general manager of The Kings, said that despite the bad weather, the pub has already seen a healthy number of visitors enjoying their drinks in the outside seating area.
He said: ‘We’ll reopen inside from 12 on Monday.
‘It’ll be great to get chatting with people without worrying about being cold, but we’ve had such a good response from our locals despite the rain – much better than expected.
‘We can’t wait – we’ve now got BT Sports installed so we will be showing the football, so that’s new.’
Rodney Watson, who runs Southsea Village on Palmerston Road, said: ‘We’ve been getting ready for it and have taken on three new chefs and five bar staff to bolster numbers.‘We are going to be very busy and are booked up for the first few weeks outside. As people are nervous about going abroad I think we are going to get a lot of tourists visiting.
‘I think our sales will be double what we had in 2019. Over the last weeks for just serving people outside was the same as what we had in 2019 for serving inside and outside.
‘We have been doing intensive staff training to get everyone up to speed. People will be able to order using the app and for older people who do not use the app we will offer full table service.
‘We have screens, three toilets, track and trace and staff will do two lateral flow tests every week. The last thing I want is for staff to have Covid without knowing it. It also breeds confidence to the customer as some are still scared.’
Terence Carvalho, general manager of restaurant and hotel Becketts Southsea, said: ‘We’re excited to reopen, it’s been five months so we’re raring to go.
‘It’ll be the rule of six, following government guidelines, and we’ll also have the new menu and the reopening of the hotel.
‘The new menu will include the grill, a great vegan menu, and all using fresh local ingredients.’
George Purnell, managing director of Koop + Kraft in Cowplain, says that his staff are looking forward to coming off of furlough and getting back to work.
He said: ‘We’re looking forward to next week, we’re excited and can’t wait – we’ve waited long enough.
‘We’ve got a new menu and we’re working on some new things, showcasing new produces, being innovative again, creating things that customers couldn’t do for themselves at home.’
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The Shalimar Indian restaurant on Hambledon Parade, Waterlooville, is also set to welcome customers back to its inside seating area from Monday.
Irque Miah, manager of the Shalimar, said: ‘It's been a long time, but it’s getting back to normality slowly.
‘It’s been like this for too long, but we’re all starting to feel human again.
‘It’s been such a long time, you get used to a new way, but now we’re focusing on the bookings.’
The Ironmaster in West Street, Fareham, is preparing to reopen its indoor service area next week.
Carl Baker, landlady of The Ironmaster, said: ‘It’ll be the rule of six following relevant government guidelines, and we’ll be doing table service.
‘There’s bit of both excitement and apprehension, mixed emotions really. It has been a long time.
‘We’ve got lots of good football coming up and people will be keen to come out and watch the football here – that will be a treat.
‘I’d recommend that people book a table but if not, come along and give us a try – we don’t know how long people are going to stay with us and we can accommodate walk-ins.’
The pub is also planning to host a four day launch party when further restrictions are eased on June 21, and live music has been arranged for every Friday after restrictions lift.
Sara Pollard-Dambach, landlady of The Roebuck Inn in Wickham, said: ‘We cannot wait to reopen our inside seating on Monday, we’ve rejigged the whole area to make it even more Covid safe and make people feel as comfortable as possible.’