There was a buzz on the Penrith high street today as COVID restrictions were eased once more.
Indoor hospitality was able to reopen which saw people taking the opportunity to dine out without fear of the unpredictable Cumbrian weather.
Business owners and shoppers alike welcomed the return to normality, albeit with masks and hand sanitiser aplenty.
Today was particularly special for Dave Mollon, owner of The Pinny pub on Burrowgate, who has had his doors shut for 198 days.
The landlord said he did not benefit from the Government’s COVID recovery grant and was forced to claim Universal Credit as a result.
“I just want to get on and make some money finally,” he said.
“I opened at 10am and I’ve already had a lot of my local regulars in – no doubt there will be a few more in after five too.”
Dave said he was looking forward to the weekend and after June 21 when he can organise some live music, providing restrictions allow.
Lisa Parsa, owner of Woodstone Pizza and Flame Grill on Princes Street, was also excited to be back open fully.
She said: “Since April 12, we’ve been open to outdoor dining and takeaways which has been really popular.
“The takeaways in particular have been really big with people on campsites. We’ve had people come from places like Ullswater Heights, Lowther Caravan Park, Flusco and more.
“This summer might be quite a busy one for us with all the tourist trade we’re doing.”
Lisa is hoping the expand the outdoor seating and open an ice cream hatch for people to enjoy the sun.
Wanda Kitching, owner of Daffodils Coffee House, said: “Business has been good but it’s just nice to have people back in for once.
“I’m happy to get back to normality really, I think everyone is. I’m just glad people aren’t outside shivering any more.
“I think it’s going to be a good summer with people out and about and the tourists on staycations coming into town.”
Michael and Lynn, of Stainton, were eating lunch outside the George Hotel, said: “I know we are allowed inside but why would you when it’s so nice out?”
“We feel outdoor dining might stick. I think people are used to it now, it feels quite continental.”
“We’re more hardened now,” joked Lynn. “It’s nice to have the choice.”
Both Michael and Lynn have both had their vaccinations, adding: “It makes you feel more confident getting out and about.”
The couple were planning on having dinner with friends at the Brantwood Arms in Stainton this evening.
Helen Lynch, who owns The Lemon Tree Café Bistro with her husband, said: “We’ve definitely seen a lot more people today than we have over the past few weeks.
“Everyone seems glad to be out and about – we’ve had a lot of regulars in who we haven’t been able to see properly for months and months.
“I am a bit apprehensive though. There is still a lot of uncertainty after what happened last year, so its nervousness mixed with excitement.”
From today you can:
- Hug family and friends – the decision about whether this is an acceptable risk to take is up to the individual.
- People should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
- Indoor hospitality will reopen – pubs, restaurants, hotels and other venues can now serve customers indoors.
- Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of more than 30 people will remain illegal.
- Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply.
- Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
- How have you found the first day back as restrictions ease? Whether you’re a customer or a business owner, tell us how it’s gone for you. Email reporter Oliver Tallis at email@example.com or call 01768 861216.