South Shields pubs, cafes and restaurants welcome customers indoors for first time in 2021
Families and friends have spoken of their joy at reuniting indoors as another step in the Government’s lockdown exit roadmap saw pubs and restaurants begin to fill up again for the first time in months.
On Monday, May 17, South Tynesiders joined millions of others across the UK in being able to visit indoor hospitality venues and see loved ones in small groups for the first time this year.
Shoppers were out in steady numbers along King Street, while midday customers began to fill up some of the town centre’s long-empty public houses.
As one punter outside the Brigham and Cowan social club – which welcomed dozens back for daytime bingo – put it: “It’s just nice to see faces again.”
At the nearby Wetherspoon’s pub, The Wouldhave, doors were open from 8am.
"Not everyone realised we were open at eight today, I don’t think,” said manager Phil Riddle.
"So breakfast was a bit quieter than maybe we'd expected. But it’s been pretty full since, so fingers crossed it stays that way.”
Stephanie Gooding, who was overseeing service at the Clover and Wolf establishment next door, said: "A lot of places are getting a big influx right now, but today’s been more like a breather for us.
“We’ve been one of the only places open in South Shields with a large outdoor seating area. So pretty much everyone has been heading here for the last few weeks.
"Hopefully, there’ll be no more obstacles for us now – we really can’t afford to have another lockdown at this point.”
But, despite a general mood of buoyancy among residents and traders upon being able to readmit customers, concerns remain around what complications the new ‘India variant’ of coronavirus could bring for the area, as restrictions continue to ease nationwide.
Norman and Joyce Crosby, who spoke to The Gazette while enjoying coffee and fleeting bursts of sunshine outside Charleston’s Coffee House, have both received their two Covid jabs - but they are still apprehensive about returning to indoor hospitality venues.
"We’ve had to be very careful these last few months,” Mr Crosby said.
“We’ve had a lovely morning walking along by the seafront, past the Little Haven and through the town this morning. But, for now, we’d rather not take any chances and will stick with being outside.”