'I've worked since I was 16 so lockdown has been tough' - restaurant boss looks forward to reopening
The boss of an award-winning Sunderland restaurant is desperate to get back to business as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
Yuvraaj in Ashbrooke – the Echo's Curry House of the Year for three years running – has been closed since November and owner Monie Hussain can’t wait to welcome guests back.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Friday that the rules would be eased from Monday, May 17 as the latest step in the Government’s coronavirus roadmap.
The changes will see include indoor socialising permitted for the first time in more than four months.
The move follows the downgrading of the UK Covid alert level from 4 to 3 as a result of the success of the vaccination programme and lockdown restrictions.
From Monday, venues will be able to serve customers indoors for the first time since the latest lockdown began in January, though social distancing rules remain in place.
Monie Hussain has been delighted with the number of bookings Yuvraaj has received since confirming it would reopen next week – and hopes the numbers will remain steady as lockdown easing continues.
The Government plans to lift all restrictions on June 21, depending on whether the pandemic continues to ease.
"It has been six months now and it has been really hard,” said Monie.
"I started work when I was 16 and I have never had that much time off.”
Monie had planned to reopen after New Year, only to see a third lockdown introduced just as he was gearing up to welcome customers back: “On the day we thought they were going to announce reopening, they announced the extension of the lockdown,” he said.
He has plenty of bookings from regular customers for the next fortnight and is keeping his fingers crossed that business will remain buoyant from then on: “The response has been amazing,” he said.
"All our regular clientele have returned and it looks really positive for the first couple of weeks. The support I have had from my regular customers has been unbelievable all the time I have been here.
"Hopefully we can get back to where we were – that’s all I want.”