Since lockdown restrictions have been lifted, I’ve been making the most of socialising with my friends, whether it be a walk through the countryside, a takeaway or meal out, or, of course, a drink at one of my local pubs. Although I’ve heard bad things about some pubs in my area and across the country as a whole, I’ve only had fairly positive experiences in regards to social distancing. I’m happy to be able to get out to pubs again, as long as I feel reassured that they are definitely safe and socially distant.
Let’s start by talking about a classic choice – Wetherspoons. I know a lot of us have missed Spoons over lockdown (I have been particularly missing the Impy *sad face*). My local Spoons seems pretty good when it comes to social distancing, so probably doesn’t have a particularly high risk of causing COVID-19 to spread. Having said that, I haven’t been there on a Friday or Saturday night, so it may be a little less safe at those times. When I’ve been for food and drinks, we’ve ordered on the app to reduce contact with staff and other customers, and have used the hand sanitiser that they provide as well. There is only a very small beer garden, which is more of a smoking area really, at my local Spoons, so it’s often not possible to get a seat outside. Despite this, my experiences at Spoons have been good, stress-free and not largely dissimilar from pre-lockdown.
I’ve also been to a cocktail bar and restaurant near my home a few times since lockdown restrictions have eased and I enjoyed that experience each and every time. Leonards at 39 in Ross-on-Wye is already my favourite bar-come-restaurant and the fact that they’ve adapted so effectively for the pandemic makes it even more appealing. There is no outdoor space at the restaurant, but the plastic screens they’ve put between each table makes it feel safe even without a beer garden.
The nicest beer garden/outdoor eating and drinking area I’ve been to in my area is the Royal Hotel, which is a Greene King pub. It has a lovely terrace area with a beautiful view of the River Wye. It is particularly gorgeous at sunset – I really can’t think of anything better than being sat with a gin and tonic enjoying that amazing but familiar landscape. The social distancing at The Royal is brilliant, so I would fully recommend Greene King establishments to anyone who has one in their area. For example, many of you may be familiar with the Black Horse in Exeter which is a Greene King pub.
Unless you or a member of your household is strictly shielding, and if you’re able to, I would really recommend trying out one of your local pubs with some friends if you haven’t already. They really aren’t that scary or different from how they were pre-lockdown. It’s also of course great to support small businesses so I would suggest visiting independent pubs and restaurants even though Spoons is obviously a staple. Keep a safe distance and enjoy being back at the pub!
– Bridie Adams
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