The great alfresco April reopening of the nation’s pubs received another boost last night as Marston’s brewery said it was planning to welcome customers into almost 700 of its beer gardens.
The chain announced that 70 per cent of its venues across England would be back in business from April 12 for eager diners and drinkers.
The 696 pubs will be offering an outdoor table service and are taking bookings – and customers will be able to use toilets and baby-changing facilities.
The Government confirmed a new £56 million ‘Welcome Back Fund’ would help towns spruce up their high streets and hold outdoor beer and food festivals
Marston’s Brewery announced that 70 per cent of its venues across England would be back in business from April 12 for eager diners and drinkers.
It came as the Government said it was slashing red tape to allow pubs and bars to put up marquees without having to apply for planning permission.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘I’m allowing every pub in the country to erect a marquee in their garden for the whole summer as a one-off power to support our locals.’ The move, which Whitehall officials believe will allow an extra 9,000 pubs to reopen in 22 days’ time, comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed that landlords were facing demands to pay hundreds of pounds in fees to town halls for additional planning and licensing permits.
But Mr Jenrick ordered local authorities to back down and said new rules will also allow customers to spill out on to pavements without landlords having to extend their licensing conditions.
Form a disorderly queue… salons are booked till summer
By Molly Clayton
Few people have had a proper haircut this year – and it looks like some of us could still be waiting long past the April 12 reopening of salons and barbers.
Hairdressers across England are fully booked for weeks to come after quick-thinking customers snapped up appointments.
Rosanna Freestone, owner of Verso Hair in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, said: ‘We are expecting to be fully booked for the first couple of months. People are panicking they won’t get in.’
Celebrity hairdresser Andrew Barton, who owns Headmasters in Mayfair, said: ‘Firstly, we will fit in regular clients and those that had appointments that had to be missed. We also have a priority reservation list. We expect to be very busy.’
Toni & Guy’s global creative director Sacha Mascolo-Tarbuck said: ‘Most salons have 500 to 1,000 or more clients booked in for April. The response has been amazing.’
Non-essential firms have been closed since early January. Those in tier 4 have been shut for longer. Hairdressers in Wales have been back at work since last week while those in Scotland will reopen on April 5. National Hair & Beauty Federation chief executive Richard Lambert said: The hair & beauty sector has been one of the worst affected. As with last summer’s re-opening, we’re now expecting a surge of appointments.’
Meanwhile, the Government confirmed a new £56 million ‘Welcome Back Fund’ would help towns spruce up their high streets and hold outdoor beer and food festivals.
Mr Jenrick said: ‘As we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown we are all looking forward to being reunited with friends and family outdoors and making a safe and happy return to our favourite shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
‘As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.’
Restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve customers again outside from April 12 in England. They will then be given the green light to offer indoor seating from May 17, providing specific Covid conditions are met. Restrictions are due to be totally relaxed by June 21.
As part of the new rules coming into place from April, the hated 10pm curfew has been scrapped and customers won’t have to buy a ‘substantial meal’ when they order an alcoholic drink. They will have to drink at a table though, and wear facemasks when they are not sitting down.
Josh Green, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘It’s good news for pubs, as we move towards the outdoor reopening, that rules around outdoor spaces will be more relaxed, particularly given the vagaries of April weather.
‘We would urge the Government and local councils to work with publicans in ensuring that as many people as possible are able to enjoy a pint in the glorious Great British pub in April and beyond.’ Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, which has 1,400 pubs in Britain, said: ‘We are delighted we can reopen many of our pubs, but can’t wait until all our pubs can serve customers again.
‘The resilience of our managers and partners during this time has been admirable and we look forward to safely reuniting friends and family.’
Pubs will also be allowed to sell takeaway pints from April 12, which had previously been banned. There are around 45,000 pubs in England, 43 per cent of them with an outdoor area of some kind.
Bosses at brewing giant Young’s will reopen 140 of their pubs, while Wetherspoon is also planning to serve at 394 of their establishments.
Pubs in Scotland are expected to remain closed until at least April 26. No official announcement has been made in Wales or Northern Ireland.
Here come 500,000 brides to say, ‘I do!’
By Molly Clayton
Half a million couples are set to walk up the aisle in an £11 billion rush to get married, experts say.
With all Covid restrictions due to end on June 21, firms specialising in weddings, including hotels and caterers, expect a bookings surge.
There are around 250,000 weddings across England and Wales in an average year. But research by Bridebook, a wedding-planning website, suggests that 500,000 couples will say ‘I do’ in the 18 months after the lockdown is lifted.
The total includes couples who were already planning to get married before the pandemic, as well as those who have got engaged in the meantime. Bridebook says the number of online searches on its website for venues is up by 590 per cent compared to a normal March.
Founder Hamish Shephard said: ‘Venues will be flooded with bookings. We’ve seen a much bigger trend in weekday weddings, with couples eager to avoid having to wait even longer to tie the knot.’
Its UK Annual Wedding Report also revealed that the average cost of getting married is £20,731 – inclusive of the honeymoon and engagement ring. But it says 47 per cent of couples who already had a venue booked pre-Covid will now spend an average of £1,586 more on their wedding.
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