Southsea pubs open to roaring trade as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted - but some landlords predict their return as soon as next week
IT LOOKED like a fairly subdued Saturday lunch time for pub trade along Albert Road – but publicans report a roaring return of trade across the week, although they and punters foresee a return of restrictions.
Bar service, packed pubs, and mask-less faces returned to the Southsea road after the government lifted all mandatory Covid-19 restrictions on Monday.
Now landlords have reported a great week of trade as punters have made the most of relatively normal pub service.
Steve Morgan, manager of The Leopold, said: ‘I have been here since September and last night was the most people I have seen.
‘There must have been more than 80 people in here.’
Down the street at The Fifth Hants Volunteer Arms, Aiden Estell agreed: ‘It’s been brilliant. Day trade has really picked up and we are seeing a lot of new faces.’
It was a slow start for the Wine Vaults further up the road, but this Friday saw large crowds pack out the venue, according to assistant manager Zoe Wingate.
She said: ‘Monday was absolutely dire – nothing going on. But yesterday we took the most amount of money for a Friday in a long time. So restrictions lifting has been a god-send.’
Looking to the future, publicans across the pub-packed street all foresaw some restrictions returning – some landlords would welcome them as early as next week.
Steve at The Leopold said rising cases could warrant a swift return of mask or social distancing.
The landlord said: ‘I think restrictions will come back. We have left the pub as it was before with social distancing. It’s cut capacity by about 25 per cent – we have still kept our heads and don’t want to go mad. But I don’t think they should bring in Covid-19 passports to pubs like ours.’
It comes as the UK recorded more than 309,000 new positive cases of the coronavirus over the last week, according to government statistics.
Punters agreed that returning restrictions already did not seem a million miles away.
Keighley Holden and Chloe Eggleton, enjoying lunchtime drinks in The Fifth Hants Volunteer Arms, said they would ‘100 per cent’ be onboard with some limited restrictions to curtail the spread of cases and widespread isolating measures.
Keighley said: ‘If you go back six weeks, I didn’t know anyone who had it. Now we know six people with Covid.
The mum-of-one, whose little boy is still in primary school, added: ‘I don’t want to go back into lockdown. And I don’t ever want to go back to home schooling.’