Drinkers celebrate in Guernsey as it becomes the first place in the British Isles to reopen pubs

Golden Lion

Guernsey has become the first place in the British Isles to re-open its pubs as the coronavirus lockdown slowly begins to wind down.

Licensed premises throughout the Channel Island started serving pints again this week – in a taste of what’s to come for the mainland next month.

The lifting of restrictions comes more than two months after all pubs shut in March when the lockdown was announced.

But Guernsey has now entered phase four of its exit plan as it has reported ‘no known’ Covid-19 cases remaining.

In addition to pubs, hairdressers, gyms, restaurants, cafes, museums and cinemas have also been allowed to welcome customers again.

Initially pubs and bars not serving meals were warned they would need to remain closed even when other businesses reopened, but that continued closure now just applies to nightclubs.

And with venues serving food re-opening on Saturday, all other pubs were allowed to follow suit on Monday.

Some restrictions remain in force with landlords told they must provide table service and record everyone who has been there.

Many pubs say they have not been able to open straight away due to staffing and other matters.

But among those welcoming back customers is the Golden Lion.

Manager Aaron Thompson, said: ‘We’ve set it up so all our tables are one metre apart, we’ve set out flooring plans so people can queue easily and we’re going to be doing obviously table service.

‘We’ve done all the toilets, so they can all be used safely and within the distance, so we’ve just done everything we can to make sure it’s safe and easy and people can enjoy it.’

Jack Gervaise-Brazier, owner of The Golden Lion, added: ‘Not everything is possible, and we’re going to be running limited stock. We don’t know how many people are going to be coming out.

‘I think there’s going to be a level of anxiety as well, so with that in mind, we’re doing what is feasible.

‘We’ve got outside, inside and upstairs, so we’re going to be doing a phased opening, and it’s a question of not running before you can walk really.’

Guernsey Pub

One local Paul Schofield said it was a great morale booster for pubs to be back.

‘He said: ‘It’s great the pubs are back. Good for the economy as a whole and you can’t beat a nice cold pint in a sunny beer garden.

‘We are very lucky in Guernsey to be able to do this, but hopefully everywhere else will be able to follow us soon.’

Guernsey Police said it would be stepping up patrols due to the re-opening of the night time economy.

A spokesperson said: ‘An additional restriction is removed and pubs can now serve alcohol without food needing to be purchased at the same time.

‘Our shifts are appropriately resourced and high visibility patrols will be taking place as we return to policing associated with an active night time economy.’

Despite this, officers said other than a few calls for noisy parties everyone had been well behaved.

‘So far everyone has complied with the rules and guidelines,’ said Duty Inspector Kieran McGrath.

‘We’ve had lots of police out on patrols and they report that people have been well behaved.’