This weekend bars, restaurants and cafes in Liverpool will reopen for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown and people are being urged to plan ahead and avoid pub-crawls. Tony McDonough reports
Bars, restaurants and cafes will open across the Liverpool city region this weekend for the first time in March and people are being urged to take it easy and plan ahead.
In late March the UK’s entire hospitality sector was shut down in a lockdown designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus epidemic. With the virus now in retreat, the Government is allowing businesses to reopen from Saturday, July 4.
Liverpool City Council says it welcomes the reopening of bars, cafes and restaurants but is also asking people to remember that COVID-19 still poses a health risk. As part of what it is calling #steadysaturday, it says people will need to take a different approach to socialising than they did before the lockdown, cautioning against pub-crawls.
It is anticipated that the majority of restaurants will operate on a pre-booking basis only, and those which don’t require reservations will have an outdoor queuing system in place. Due to limitations put in place relating to Covid-19, social distancing will result in reduced capacity in all venues.
A series of FAQs have been produced on a special section of the Love Your Liverpool website to help people make a decision about whether they want to make the most of the relaxed lockdown regulations from Saturday.
These include guidance about what visitors can do to make the most of their visit and what measures pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants are being advised to implement. This weekend also sees the start of the Liverpool Without Walls pilot which is a joint project between Liverpool City Council, Liverpool BID Company and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.
It aims to support businesses in creating more outdoor space to accommodate social distancing guidelines. The pilot areas in the city centre are Bold Street, where architecturally designed furniture will start to be installed, and Castle Street where road closures will be introduced to benefit both pedestrians and businesses.
Councillor Sharon Connor, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Highways, said: “The reopening of the hospitality sector is an important and welcome stage in the easing of lockdown.
“But it’s vital we strike the right balance of supporting businesses to bring about a much-needed boost to the local economy and at the same time keep the public safe. Liverpool is in a good place at the moment but we cannot be complacent.
We’re grateful to the industry for adhering to guidelines and putting in measures that ensure people can enjoy food and drink in a safe way.
“But the main message to anyone thinking of a trip to the city centre, or to other popular hospitality areas in the city, is to plan your trip. Pre-book where possible and understand that things will be different and it is highly unlikely you will be able to visit numerous venues in one outing.”
And Rich McGinnis, who is on the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network Board and is founder of a number of bars and clubs in the city, added: “It’s been a difficult time for operators and many are taking a slow and steady approach to reopening and gauging what others are doing across Liverpool.
“It will be interesting to see what happens not just at the weekend but over the next few weeks. Hopefully we’ll see everyone following the guidelines so we can keep staff and customers safe and start to bring this sector back to life.”