Hartlepool pubs raise a glass as beer gardens reopen under lockdown easing
Pub customers and staff alike raised a glass as bars opened for the first in more than five months.
Beer gardens across Hartlepool were busy on April 12 with friends and families enjoying a drink and meal outside.
Many venues have installed new outdoor seating, marquees and gazebos in order to reopen under government guidelines from Monday.
The Raby Arms, in Hart village, saw a brisk trade and manager Kate Bruns said the phone had not stopped ringing with table bookings.
She said: “It’s really exciting to be open and nice to see lots of our regulars back.
"The weekend is pretty much fully booked back to back.”
Customer Claire Hoey, 36, of West Park, who runs a children’s play centre, said: “It’s just nice to be able to come out and meet some friends.”
Husband Simon, 37, added: “It’s nice to support the pub because we know ourselves how tough it’s been.”
Also meeting up for the first time in months were former Thornhill School staff Laraine Grieveson, Carole Clarke, her daughter Nicola Clarke, and Margaret Baister.
Carole, 73, said: “We haven’t been able to catch up and have something to eat for so long. It’s been hard.”
Laraine, 64, added: “It feels like we’re back in the land of the living.”
Old school friends Keith Lupton, Shane Atkinson, Donna Vasey, Carl Rowbotham, Anth Frain, and Kirsty Davies booked a table in the new marquee.
Shane, 32, said: “Since the date we were told you’re allowed to go to the pub we booked our slots.”
The Nursery Inn, in Hopps Street, also has new seating and covering for 100 customers.
Licensee Deborah Humberston said: “It will make a massive difference. I think everyone is ready for it.”
Customer Alistair Rodda, 57, said: “It’s just nice to get out the house, socialise and have a sense of freedom.”
Elsewhere, Lindsay Carney, manager of the Wetherspoon’s Ward Jackson pub in the town centre, said: "It's been lovely seeing everybody. I'm excited to see all of the staff and all of the customers again."
Customer Rafal Szczesny, 36, said he's missed the atmosphere of the pub and added: "I'm waiting for my train. so I'm going to have a pint before I go. I look forward to going shopping and meeting my friends again."