Bars and restaurants are welcoming back customers through their doors to sit inside today as lockdown restrictions are eased across the country.

Hospitality has been allowed to serve food and drinks outside since April 12, with many places across the borough taking full advantage of this.

But many establishments in the town do not have an outdoor area, meaning they could not reopen.

There were also a number of bars, pubs, and restaurants across the town which do have an outside area that took the decision to wait until today to open for a number of reasons.

One of these is Henighans in Bury Road, Breightmet, owned by Nick Howcroft.

His team has used the last few weeks to prepare the indoor area, giving it a fresh coat of paint and making sure all Covid precautions are in place.

Nick said his team have been back in the pub recently getting ready for today and are “raring to go”.

He added: “We do have a big outdoor area but we believed it wouldn’t be worth the hassle to open just the outdoor area for that month or so. We know a lot of places that have opened and they’ve had busy periods but we felt it wasn’t what we wanted to do and have been doing some great work in the meantime.

“I know a lot of pubs near us were very busy for little periods, but quiet for others which isn’t ideal.

"The weather started off okay for the first week or two after April 12 but after that it really wasn’t the weather for outside drinking.

“We only have limited shelters so can’t have accommodated everyone outside wanting to be under one. And the idea of people crowding under covers in the rain didn’t sit well with us.

“We just knew as well that we’d spent nearly £15,000 worth of stock for opening up last time which mostly went to waste and if we’d done that again for opening just outside and lost that again that would have been awful.

“That money has been invested again in replenishing stock for when we open indoor and can hopefully be consistently busy and not worrying about the weather.

“There was a health and safety aspect to opening outdoor which we weren’t comfortable with either. Having glasses and food outside in the rain with people potentially crowding around didn’t feel like a good idea to us.

“Instead we feel we’ve used this extra time to prepare our pub to be the best it can be and prepare our staff as much as possible.

“We’re absolutely raring to go now and just hope this can be the start of everything relaxing and getting back to being a proper pub again.”

Another site opening this week is Little Bolton Town Hall in St George’s Street, which is going to be opening on Friday, with many bookings already fixed.

Rebecca Brayshaw, who co-owns the site, said: “Preparations for reopening have been going really well and we are very excited to be welcoming people back customers to the bar and restaurant.

“There was definitely a lot of nervousness around Covid announcements last week with many people getting in touch with us to check what the situation would be, which we didn’t know at the time which was quite hard to have to deal with.

“We definitely think we made the right decision too to not open up our outdoor courtyard area.

“There was that week or so at the beginning of that period where the weather was alright and people did seem to be going out but it really took a turn after that with the rain, and even snow.

“I’ve been seeing places near where I live that have been open when the weather has been horrible with just a few people there which is heartbreaking to see for those businesses.

“We just never thought it would be financially viable to cover our courtyard area when it was such a short space of time between opening outdoor to indoor.

“We like having that outdoor area as just an option too, for when the weather is nice and it is good to sit outside. It wouldn’t have felt right it being there and forcing people to have to use it, especially when it wasn’t the best weather.

“We’ve done a lot of great work on our indoor area which we’re really excited for people to see so we’re really looking forward to welcoming people back on Friday.

“It’s almost like people just want to fast forward to when there is no talk of variants or anything and they can just come out again to a place like ours and be comfortable and have a really nice time.

“There are already people who are looking to book their parties and weddings with us, which we love to do, so we’re really looking forward to that coming back too.

“Friday should be great and we are really raring to see our customers back with us again.”

The next stage of the lockdown reopening road map is set to happen on June 21 when all hospitality can open without any restrictions on social distancing and more.