'Busy times' predicted as Hartlepool's hospitality sector reopens to indoor customers
A Hartlepool hospitality chief says businesses are looking forward to the next stage of lifting lockdown after more than a year of uncertainty.
The chairman of Hartlepool Licensees Association, Darab Rezai is predicting busy times as pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes, can finally reopen to customers indoors from Monday, May 17.
He is feeling optimistic for the future as things start to get back to normal.
Mr Rezai, who also owns The Harbour View fish and chip restaurant, on Hartlepool Marina, said: “I think it’s fantastic news that everybody is coming out of the lockdown.
"We have gone through a year of uncertainty. We want to make sure that all the local businesses are supported, hospitality as well as retail.
"They are connected. When people go shopping they often end up spending a bit of time in a cafe or restaurant for a drink or bite to eat.
"We are sure that everybody will be busy however we have still got to follow the government rules with social distancing, sanitising hands and ventilation.
"We want to make sure we get rid of covid-19, hopefully forever.”
Mr Rezai said that, while some bars and restaurants have been able to take advantage of outdoor service since April 12, some have not had enough space.
Nationally, the accommodation and food services sector suffered a 18.2% drop in the first quarter of 2021, according to Office of National Statistics figures.
Mr Rezai said Monday’s reopening will also allow furloughed workers to return.
“It can only be good for the economy of the town both in the day time and night time.” he added.
"We congratulate everyone who has pulled through and are grateful to every single customer who will come.”
The popular King Johns Tavern, in Hartlepool town centre, is among the bars due to reopen on Monday after choosing not to open its beer garden last month.
Cafes and restaurants in Middleton Grange shopping centre will also reopen for indoor dining.
The town’s main tourist attraction, the National Museum of the Royal Navy, will also welcome visitors back on May 17.
Hartlepool Art Gallery, in Church Square, will reopen on Tuesday, May 18.
People will be also able to hug loved ones, and mix indoors and enjoy overnight stays in groups of up to six people or two households from Monday.
But Hartlepool’s director of public health, Craig Blundred, has urged people not to get complacent.
He said: “The additional freedoms that we are about to enjoy are the direct result of the sacrifices made over many months by local residents in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and I thank them for that.
“However, people need to remain vigilant and ensure that the closer contact they will be allowed to have with loved ones and friends does not lead to a resurgence of the virus.
"Please remember that Covid-19 has not gone away.”
A series of videos has been produced on behalf of the North East’s 12 local authorities to help businesses welcome customers safely back covering indoor hospitality, accommodation and indoor leisure facilities.
See Hartlepool Borough Council’s website for links at www.hartlepool.gov.uk