People in Wales can now sit down in their favorite pubs, restaurants and cafes for the first time in more than four months.
Sites across Wales have worked hard to ensure sufficient security measures are in place before greeting customers.
But things won’t be completely back to normal any time soon.
One-way systems, fewer covers, more staff, and even thermal imaging mean that a dining experience will be a little different for some businesses right now.
West Cross Inn on Mumbles Road, Swansea opened for the first time since March Monday.
Owner Vicky Morgans said financial implications were one of the reasons they decided not to reopen outdoors in July.
“We’ve had a lot of phone and email bookings, we’ve lost some blankets that will affect business.
“It was a 30-seat restaurant but we now have 20, the bar also lost 10 seats. ”
Like many businesses, West Cross Inn participates in the government’s Eat Out to Help Out program.
It will run from August 3-31 and you’ll save 50% at participating locations on food and non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink.
The pub has a number of reservations for Monday evening.
She added: “We have safety procedures in place such as screens and hand sanitizer.
“In the future, we are doing everything we can to try to be responsible and minimize the number of visitors and any further spread.
“We do ask for reservations but will accept walk-in tours if we have a table and there will be a host waiting outside the front door to escort people to their table.
“We have always offered table service so this is not really going to change our process, with the good weather we are considering opening our reception hall downstairs on a drink only basis. ”
In Swansea’s maritime district, the Queens Hotel has been a staple since 1892.
Manager Joe Hixson said regulars started entering the pub from 11 a.m. – the first time in nearly five months they’ve been able to enjoy a pint here.
“It’s nice to see all the regulars again,” Joe said.
“Everything has changed now, they were standing by the bar but we have stopped that now, customers have to be seated at the table or outside but they are grateful to be there.
“It’s limited to 40 people inside compared to what used to be a few hundred on a Saturday.
“It was a challenge because we still had all of our bills to pay,” he added.
Joe said the pub had considered introducing an app service – but admitted he didn’t think it would work for the company.
“We have stations where you order, once you have your drinks you take them out and sit down.
“We looked at apps, but a lot of our customer base doesn’t have a smartphone, that would be too complicated for some of our customers.
“We try to keep it simple, we follow all guidelines and there are hand sanitizing stations as soon as you walk in,” he explained.
In Newport, The Potters pub on Upper Dock Street, has also been completely closed to customers since the lockdown began on March 23.
Manager Emma Gorvett said the staff were very happy to welcome customers again as they started serving breakfast on Monday morning.
“We had, I’d say 70% of what we normally would have had – which is pretty good,” Emma said.
“The whole pub is open but we are not reserving the outside terrace. It’s reserved for walk-in people who just want a drink.
“We encourage people to make reservations. “
Emma said customers were each seated and then encouraged to use an app to order their food and drinks.
One-way systems and other measures are also in place throughout the building.
“There has been a very good response to the catering offer to help,” Emma said.
“Most of our customers are not aware of this. They check the amount we charged them.
“I would say only 20% of our customers expect it. I would have thought it will pick up again later this month. “
She added, “All the staff are so enthusiastic. It is charming. I think everyone has had a little too much free time.
“Everything went very well here. We were all a little nervous that we forgot something, but everything went very well. ”
However, not all pubs and restaurants have decided to reopen indoors.
Limited by the size of the old 16th century thatched-roof country pub, the owners of the Bush Inn, St Hilary, just outside Cardiff, have decided to keep their alfresco dining, which has been turned out to be a great success.
“We are a 16th century country pub with a thatched roof, inside we have four rooms but they are so small that we would only be allowed seven tables with social distancing.
“It’s beautiful, but inside for us, to do the Covid-19 risk assessment, we would need to put two or three team members.
“It’s not financially viable. At least for now, as long as we can stay outside, we will, ”said Liz, who co-owns the pub with her husband Andrew Hooker.
The Bush Inn reopened to the outdoors on July 13 and like most places, they have completely adapted the way they work to survive.
“It wasn’t really an effective reopening, we opened a whole new business,” said Liz, who is about to celebrate ten years since the pub opened.
“We used to open Monday through Sunday, but we’ve been open Wednesday through Sunday since reopening. But now we plan to take full advantage of the new schedule, so we will be open every day except Thursday.
“How could we not? For local businesses like ours, we must take advantage. ”
The gorgeous and idyllic pub has adapted its traditional “game style” menu of Wellingtons and pies by installing an outdoor wood-burning stove that allows them to serve pizza.
The decision to install such an oven was also aimed at ensuring that there were fewer staff working in the pub’s kitchen to allow for social distancing.
Guests sit outside under a long gazebo, which is handy when the Welsh weather takes a hit.
“We had a weekend where the weather was not great and we didn’t take a deposit for our outdoor seats for that reason, but this weekend no reservations came up.
“I think people just want to get out, we’ve been locked inside for four months, it’s just a change people want.
“It’s about surviving, we can’t plan for Christmas, we can’t plan for the New Year, so right now we’re enjoying whatever we can.”