Sunderland publicans 'over the moon' with Government announcement on outdoor drinking

Sunderland publicans with beer gardens say they are ‘over the moon’ with today’s announcement that pubs could serve drinks outdoors from April 12.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 5:14 pm

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his roadmap for bringing the country out of Lockdown to Parliament today, February 22, which offered some light at the end of the tunnel for the long-suffering hospitality industry.

As long as the vaccination programme continues to be a success, Mr Johnson stated that all aspects of English society could reopen by June 21 – with a number of key dates along the way as part of a phased programme of reopening.

Pubs and restaurants could begin to reopen outdoors from April 12, following the reintroduction of rule of six and two households mixing on March 27, as step two of the lockdown exit map gets underway. There will be no curfew in place or a requirement to serve a 'substantial meal' with alcohol, meaning the much debated ‘scotch egg’ rule won’t apply.

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City pubs could reopen for outdoor drinking from April 12

Five weeks later, on May 17, indoor hospitality may open, with restrictions in place.

The dates are welcome news for city pub owners, especially those with beer gardens.

The Saltgrass in Deptford has one of the largest outdoor spaces in the city, with The Anchor space for outdoor live music, an additional decking area, as well as seating in front of the pub.

Owner Walter Veti says it's a great relief to be given a date to work towards.

Walter Veti at The Saltgrass in Deptford

"We’ve really positioned ourselves in the market for news that outdoor drinking would be allowed first,” he explained. “With the addition of the outdoor areas, the footprint of the pub is huge now and we even have a specific outdoor bar license for The Anchor so we’re well geared up for this.”

He added: “We’re currently undertaking a full refurb of the inside of the pub, but finally having a date means we can make sure everything is in place for reopening. Because we’ve been doing deliveries in Lockdown, our supply chain is still in place, so we should be able to jump to it quite quickly.”

Another of the city’s larger outdoor drinking areas is at Poetic License in Roker who’ve put their front car park to good use in the past to provide drinks in the sun.

Operations director Jonny Graham said: “I’m over the moon with the news. Finally having a date means we can begin to take steps back to normality. We have a large, well ventilated outdoor area with great views over the North Sea and we can’t wait to have people back.

The Saltgrass has three outdoor areas

"We’re fortunate to have an outdoor space we can utilise, but I think city centre boozers will struggle with the initial outdoor rule as space is more limited.”

The outdoor drinking rule announcements means that other city venues with outdoor space should be able to reopen from April 12, should they choose to do so, including Hidden in the city centre, The Palm at Hylton Riverside, The Wolsey and more.

One of the most eagerly-awaited reopenings will be Stack Seaburn which has been a hugely popular addition to the seafront.

Following Boris Johnson’s roadmap announcement, owners Danieli Holdings released a statement saying: “Following today's announcement from the Government please bare with us while we digest this information and begin to put our plans in place for reopening.

The Anchor at The Saltgrass has its own outdoor bar licence

"Details on reopening will be announced on our social media pages when we are ready to do so. We know you will be eager to get booked, however, the last thing we want to do is take bookings at this stage and have to cancel them down the line.

"In the meantime, we thank you for your continued support and look forward to welcoming you back to Stack Seaburn.”

Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen and limits on social contact, including weddings, will be lifted in stage four of easing the lockdown restrictions, the Prime Minister has said.

Step four will happen no earlier than June 21.

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The outdoor area at Poetic License at Roker Hotel
Jonathan Graham, operations director at Roker Hotel
The Roker Hotel is used to hosting outdoor drinking