PEOPLE'S thirst for pubs will finally be quenched this Saturday as lockdown measures are eased further. Saiqa Chaudhari reports on how one pub is preparing to open its doors to customers after calling last orders more than three months ago.

The Bolton News:

LANDLORD Sean Hornby, like many publicans up and down the country, is relived he can finally open The Queens in Bradley Fold after more than 100 days of lockdown.

"It is about opening the pub in a safe environment," said Sean as he prepares to put up more social distancing signage around his pub, which includes 'seating plans' indicating how many people can be at table at any one time.

He said: "The Queens Pub will be different to which people had entered before the lockdown.

"The same social distancing rules people used to in a supermarket will apply here.

"There will be a one way system in and out of the pub.

"There will be signage. There will be a hand sanitisation station as people enter the pub.

Sean, who is also a councillor, said: "I will probably know more than most about the pandemic because of the committees I sit on, and safety is paramount.

"I have a duty of a care to my staff and they will have the authority to ask people to leave, no matter how much they are spending."

The Bolton News:

The pool table has gone, and the weekly karaoke session can no longer take place.

All staff have undergone coronavirus training to help make the premises covid-19 secure.

READ MORE: Loyalty scheme to boost trade in Bolton town centre and district shopping centres

There will be no pub meals, as says Sean "we need to get this right first before we start thinking about food"

The Bolton News:
Although the reopening and procedures in place may sound clinical, Sean is determined the pub is still very much at the heart of the community.

"I'm looking forward to seeing customers," said Sean, "Quite a few I have kept in contact with over social media especially our elderly customers because I think it has been important.

The Bolton News:

"Customers will have a lot of stories to tell while they have been in lockdown.

"I will be asking customers to send in funny photographs of lockdown and put them on a memory stick to show them as a slideshow on one of the televisions."

The first delivery of beer is expected later this week and the pub has undergone a deep clean.

The Bolton News:

Gone are the days when queues at the bar were two, three deep.

The Bolton News:
Numbers of customers will have to be monitored and there will no standing at the bar.

Sean said: “The number of people we can have is going to vary, if there is two mates then it will be two people around the table, if it is a bubble or a family obviously you can get more around a table, there is no exact figure as to how many you can have in.”

The Bolton News:

He added: "Will the pub survive it ?I hope it does, it has been here since 1824, it's survived two World Wars.”

Sean said: “ I am very fortunate we have a big beer garden, so we will be in a better position to recuperate losses.

“Dogs will no longer be allowed in the pub because space is money at the moment.”

He admits he wishes the Government had announced the opening on a weekday rather than an a weekend.

The Bolton News:

Sean said “We have been getting ready for this, we started decorating about six weeks ago ­— but I would have preferred a Monday so you can gradually get into by the weekend."

The Bolton News:

He added: “The guidelines have been confusing at time and some of the guidelines have come out at the last minute such as social distancing, I know of pubs which have put the two metre rule in and put all the tape down and now it is a metre.

READ MORE: How Bolton's libraries are reopening

Also from Saturday, two households of any size will be permitted to meet in any setting – inside or out.

Hairdressers will be able to reopen with precautions including the use of visors.

The domestic tourist industry will be boosted by the reopening of accommodation including hotels, B&Bs and campsites.

Only pubs in England are opening with Wales and Scotland yet to announce when they will start easing lockdown measures.

Pubs in Ireland opened on Monday with bars that serve food were able to welcome back customers after phase three of the Government's recovery plan came into force.