Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in Leicester will be able to reopen from Monday it has been confirmed – and they cannot wait to welcome back their customers.
Following confusion last night due to the lack of information about the Leicester lockdown, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has now published more complete guidance on the changes coming into force.
A statement on the Government website says that “From Monday 3 August restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers in Leicester City can get back to business but leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed. In addition, cinemas and museums will open and religious ceremonies will be able to take place.”
Restrictions to social gatherings still apply in Leicester – and will now also apply in areas of Northern England – meaning people in these areas will not be permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubbles) in private homes or gardens.
The Leicester lockdown was announced on June 30, following a coronavirus outbreak in the city, and meant that pubs and restaurants in the lockdown area were unable to join hopitality businesses elsewhere in the country in reopening on July 4.
These businesses have now been closed for more than four months.
So how do Leicester pub landlords and bar and restaurant owners feel about the latest news?
We spoke to some of them to find out.
Alan Merryweather, landlord of The Black Horse, Aylestone
Alan, who runs The Black Horse with partner Sarah Cunnington, told LeicestershireLive: “We are obviously delighted with this, having been closed for 19 weeks it has been a tough time for all involved – especially for our more mature customers who need a safe comfortable place to go for chat and human contact. We’ve missed all of the wonderful people that enjoy the Black Horse.
“We’ve spent this time making sure the pub is spruced up with painting, varnishing, cleaning and we’ve made a couple of changes which we’re very excited about.
“There will be a slightly new way to pub, but that’s to be expected. We are fully aware of the confusion presented to us last night, and remind people we have to adhere to certain rules.”
Alan says the pub – which has been offering a takeaway service during lockdown – will be taking part in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and has lined up some ‘incredible’ outside comedy for customers to enjoy.
The Black Horse is set to open this coming week – although full details are yet to be announced. Alan and Sarah will be revealing more in their latest ‘Lunch with the Landlord’ Facebook live event today.
Dave Tsouvallaris, owner of 63rd and First bar, Highcross Street
Dave told LeicestershireLive: “Obviously we are delighted we can start to reopen the doors.
“We can’t wait to get back into the swing of things.
“Unfortunately in a financial sense the damage may already of been done for a number of small business like ourselves but with a bit of luck and support we are hopeful we can get back to the way things were before the lockdown.”
Dave is planning to reopen 63rd and First on Wednesday, August 5.
Alex Hylton, landlord of The Salmon pub, Butt Close Lane
Alex said: “It’s great news that we can once again open our doors to customers and get back to doing what we do best.
“We’ve been working on improving our pub throughout lockdown and doing everything we can to make sure it is safe for customers when we reopen.
“With that in mind, we are hoping to open on Monday although one working day might be too short notice.
“We’ll be having a staff meeting today and speaking to suppliers to make sure we can get enough stock in, a rota sorted and our pub ready to welcome the public once again.”
Manoj Keshavji, owner of The New More Restaurant, London Road
Talking about the latest news, Manoj says he feels a mixture of emotions – delighted, worried and very anxious.
“I’m delighted because we need to get back to normality and our great city needs this to protect livelihoods and businesses.
“I’m worried because we could easily have another spike and an extended lockdown if people do not observe the rules.
“I’m anxious because we do not know what business will be like even when we open. We desperately need to reopen to generate an income and cashflow.
Having previously operated as a buffet restaurant, Manoj has had to completely re-model his business to an a la carte restaurant. This has included rebranding as The New More Restaurant, changing the kitchen, and re-training staff.
He is frustrated that the restaurant has not qualified for any Government grant.
“The bills are stacking up and despite our appeals, sadly we did not receive any grant from the Government because our rateable value is more than the £51k threshold which is so unfair because 99 per cent of restaurants in the hospitality and leisure sector did receive the support,” he said.
“This is despite More Restaurant leading projects that have and still continue to provide free meals to the homeless sheltered. To date through all the various projects, More Restaurant has provided over 85,000 meals to the NHS staff and their families, the elderly and vulnerable and the homeless sheltered through the amazing MLSS charity.
“We have done this as humanitarians and at no profit to us We hope this will bring us some goodwill and support from the public.”
Manoj is intending to reopen the restaurant, with table service only, on Monday, August 3 – and it will be part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme giving customers the chance to enjoy 50 per cent off their meal.