Sunday Express


- By Jon Coates CONSUMER EDITOR By Fergus Kelly

MILLIONS finally got to sup their first pint in months yesterday after the easing of lockdown restrictio­ns.

Thousands of pubs and restaurant­s reopened first thing in the morning after three months of hibernatio­n for the nation.

Even price hikes of up to a £1 per drink didn’t put punters off, with around 15 million pints expected to be sunk at 23,000 pubs nationwide.

Last night the emergency services were braced for the fallout of excessive drinking, with tents set up outside hospitals to keep people socially distanced as they wait.

Marc Jones, Lincolnshi­re’s Police and Crime Commission­er, said the easing of lockdown restrictio­ns will lead to some “decompress­ion” and “overdoing it” by a minority of young people for a few days.

The relaunch of the hospitalit­y industry brought a welcome boost to high streets across England, with retail footfall up by 15.9 per cent on average yesterday morning compared with the previous Saturday.

The high street enjoyed a 24.9 per cent rise in visitors as people shopped after having lunch or a haircut on Super Saturday.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said feedback from its branches suggested up to half of the pubs in England did not reopen yesterday. Camra’s chairman Nik Antona said: “It’s important that people come back to the pub – but do it safely.”

One of those enjoying their first sup since lockdown started was Bert Lockley at The Shropshire Arms in Chester. He was among a handful of regulars who trickled into the pub after it opened at 11am yesterday.

After sipping his first pint of draught Guinness for three months, he said: “Heaven. I’ve missed this more than my missus when she left.

“You can drink at home, but you can’t get this feeling anywhere else.”

Fellow drinker Frank Green said: “It’s not the drink, it’s the banter with everyone else.”

Another pub managed to open despite a car crashing into the front of the building in the early hours of yesterday.

Ray Perkins, landlord of The Swan Inn at Little Chart, near Ashford in Kent, was woken by the crash at around 2.25am. But he was soon serving pints to customers outside. Ray said: “We’ve had everybody rally round and clear up the bar, every single glass has had to be washed again.”

Police said three 17-year-old boys inside the car were taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries.

One of them has been arrested on suspicion of taking a vehicle without consent and drinkdrivi­ng. He remained in custody last night.

With thousands of restaurant­s also opening for the first time yesterday, the boss of Yo Sushi! has warned that any business that does not focus on keeping guests safe is doomed to fail.

Richard Hodgson, chief of the restaurant group, said those who make people feel safe “will succeed and those that don’t will fail”. His sushi chain reopened five of its restaurant­s yesterday in Ashford, Cheshire Oaks, Guildford, Leeds and Newcastle.

Wagamama opened its first site in central London yesterday, with another 17 to follow this month and

THAT first pint was lovely. Mywhite Dragon pale ale tasted even better because it was my first in five weeks.

I’d stopped as I’d had either a beer or wine pretty much every day of lockdown and was developing a stomach that suggested I was in the early stages of pregnancy.

It was also great to step back into once familiar surroundin­gs at my local, theyorkshi­reales in Snaith, eastyorksh­ire, for the first time since March.

But I was hardly trampled in the rush. There was socially distanced space for at least twice as many drinkers. I hope that changes soon.

Not least forvicky and Adrian Pettitt who, in eight years, have transforme­d it from a bottle shop into a bar named inwelcome to Yorkshire’s top 30 pubs.

It’s time for all of us to support them and all the others like them. the rest in August and September. Michelin-starred TV chef Tom Kerridge, 46, runs the Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, Bucks, and several other food establishm­ents.

He said: “For me, this is the right time to reopen. For us, it’s a great time for us to get out and find that market. I’ve got no idea what things will look like in six months. Your guess is as good as mine.

“Everywhere is going to be different, every business for us has a different approach.

“We’ve got seven different food and beverage outlets and each one

 ?? Picture: PETER BYRNE/PA ?? EXPRESS SERVICE: Drinks are delivered at a Liverpool golf club, and, inset above, The Shy Horse pub in Chessingto­n, south-west London
Picture: PETER BYRNE/PA EXPRESS SERVICE: Drinks are delivered at a Liverpool golf club, and, inset above, The Shy Horse pub in Chessingto­n, south-west London
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 ??  ?? HIT: Landlord Ray inspects damage to pub
HIT: Landlord Ray inspects damage to pub

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