Pub, restaurant and café owners across Stratford district are looking towards the future with optimism after opening to customers indoors for the first time in months.
Customers returned to their favourite hospitality venues this week as coronavirus restrictions were eased further on May 17th.
And there was confidence among owners of cafes and pubs as venues were booked up for the indoor reopening.
Richard Batchelar, general manager at The Moat House Inn in Alcester, said opening indoors was a “significant step” in the easing of restrictions.
The popular pub has worked hard to ensure a safe re-opening indoors, with a range of Covid safety measures in place.
“To be able to open indoors is another step towards getting back to where we want to be,” Richard said.
“Customers have been eager to return since we re-opened outdoors five weeks ago.
“But now they will be able to have the option of enjoying food and drink safely indoors without the disruption caused by the wind and rain.
“It feels like we are on the home stretch in the easing of the lockdown restrictions now and hopefully it can take us to a brighter future.”
And Ian Findlater, owner of The Garden Shed Café in Wellesbourne, said ‘people can be safe and importantly feel safe’ indoors.
Ian felt eating outdoors has proven popular in the last few weeks, but that the indoor opening could encourage more people to come out in the evenings.
He added: “It will give people more choices. We have got lots of outdoor space, but people can now have the best of both worlds as they can also stay indoors safely.
“We have made a number of changes to make sure people feel safe and that there is a suitable space indoors.”
Cllr Matt Jennings, Portfolio Holder for Tourism and Economic Development at Stratford District Council, was delighted customers were returning and encouraged more people to do so while following the rules that are in place.
He said: “It is great news that pubs, cafes and restaurants across the district are able to welcome back customers indoors this week after such a long wait.
“Hospitality venues have worked extremely hard to ensure customers can return to a safe indoor environment and we will do everything we can to support them as a council.
“We’re happy so many businesses have been able to reopen after a difficult few months, and we’ll continue to provide advice on any new grants they may be able to apply for in the future.”