HOSPITALITY businesses enjoyed a successful weekend after strict rules closing them were lifted.

Bolton’s bars, restaurants and cafes, were allowed to reopen on Saturday after more than three weeks of forced closure due to the increasing coronavirus infection rate in the town.

Strict new measures are in place, such as table service only and a 10pm closure curfew, in line with the rest of Greater Manchester.

Ryan Bailey, co-owner of Northern Monkey in Nelson Square, enjoyed seeing customers back in the bar again, after a difficult period but said the measures will take some getting used to.

He said: “The weather let us down a bit but we’d still got quite a few bookings in through Facebook.

“We are quite restricted for room though and we had to turn some people away because we were too full which is never nice. Some people were not too keen on having to wear masks but in general everyone that came in was brilliant with the new rules. We’ve never been a late night bar either so the curfew wasn’t a massive issue.

“Some places in town weren’t open which is understandable as it’s still a balancing act on being able to have extra staff for the new rules and still make enough money with limited capacity to make enough money and cover overheads.

“It’s great from a drinker’s perspective to be able to go to a bar again, but we hope these restrictions don’t last forever as it’s very hard to plan for the future now. We end up checking the rules every day to make sure we’re doing it right.”

Craig Egan, co-owner of the Nook & Cranny, was also happy to see customers back after the three-week closure.

He said: “It was great to see the community out.

“It was a fantastic day and everyone seemed sensible and understood the new rules. It was a breath of fresh air after all the hard work we’d put in the last week. It was just a relief and everyone was in really good spirits.”

Last week Craig and other hospitality businesses in Bromley Cross and Egerton joined together to highlight the unfairness of measures across in the borough, as residents living in the towns could make a short journey across the border to Blackburn with Darwen to visit an open pub.

He added: "We don't want to lose our voice after coming together so well last week, the furlough requirements and 10pm curfew still aren't good enough.

"We're still worried we could be closed any minute, or that Blackburn and Darwen's pubs could be and they'll try and come to us which we don't want happening so we're still working together in Bromley Cross at this difficult time."