Pubs, restaurants and cafes reopen for outdoor service in Wales

Pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes have reopened for outdoor service in Wales for the first time since December.

Groups of up to six people from any number of households can be seated together at the newly reopened hospitality venues, which are subject to strict hygiene measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

On Monday, businesses in Cardiff city centre opened their doors to a largely subdued atmosphere.

Bars, pubs and restaurants reported being completely booked up for the evening and for the rest of the week, but many tables outside businesses were left empty during the afternoon.

People walk along the pier in Llandudno, Wales, where lockdown restrictions have eased
People walk along the pier in Llandudno, Wales, where lockdown restrictions have eased (Peter Byrne/PA)

Tom Morgan, co-owner of the Pitch Bar & Eatery in Cardiff’s Mill Lane, said it was fully booked up into the May bank holiday weekend.

He told the PA news agency: “This is a big day. We have more space outside than inside, so for us this is the one we’ve been looking out for.

“We really needed today to come so we could start recouping our lost income from the past months. We’re just hoping the good weather lasts so we can keep getting people in.”

Mr Morgan said the Welsh Government’s “late” decision to only announce last week that six people from any number of households can meet up outdoors – where there was previously a two-household limit – meant he has had to unnecessarily reject bookings, which he said was “frustrating”.

“We’re excited. We just hope that this is it now, we’re working for good, and there’s not another lockdown looming, which would be disastrous for us and the majority of hospitality businesses,” he said.

But some businesses which offer little or no outside space have been unable to take advantage of the easing of hospitality rules.

Joe Rapson, owner of La Pantera Mexican-themed bar in the Welsh capital’s Quay Street, said his business would remain closed for sit-ins for now as it only had room for four tables outside.

People walk up the Great Orme in Llandudno, Wales, where lockdown restrictions have eased
People walk up the Great Orme in Llandudno (Peter Byrne/PA)

Though the bar had been thriving with takeaway food sales during lockdown, he said the proposed May 17 reopening of indoor hospitality could not come soon enough.

“I think the government, when they say that outside hospitality can open, has an image in their mind that every venue is like a country pub with a massive beer garden,” he said.

“I don’t think they quite understand that there are venues like ours where we can only fit four tables outside on basically a road. But there are some places that don’t have any outside space.

“But now it seems we only have to wait three weeks, it’s probably made people rest a little easier. If the date had been pushed back, I think there would be a lot more anger.”

Monday’s easing of hospitality rules came as organised outdoor activities were also permitted for up to 30 people, and outdoor wedding receptions for the same number, while outdoor visitor attractions can open.

Any six people can now meet up outdoors in Wales, with children under 11 years of age not included in the new six-household limit, nor carers from those households.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Llandudno on Monday (Phil Noble/PA)

Meeting people from other households indoors is still not allowed except in a limited number of circumstances.

From May 3, gyms and leisure centres can reopen, and people can form extended households with one other household.

Indoor supervised activities for children, indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults such as exercise classes, and reopening community centres are also being brought forward from May 17 to May 3, which will complete Wales’ move to Alert Level 3.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said indoor hospitality and all tourist accommodation in Wales could reopen on May 17 were he to lead the country after the May 6 Senedd election, while the main opposition parties have already committed to the same date if they win the poll.