Sheffield takes it slow and sensible as pubs in city reopen for first time in four months
After almost four months of waiting, on Saturday Sheffield was finally allowed to have fun again, as pubs and restaurants opened their doors for the first time in 15 weeks.
The city’s hospitality industry - which had been in hibernation since mid-March - was given the green light to reopen by the Government last month, but only if ‘social distancing’ and infection control measures were put in place.
These included strict limits on the numbers of customers, screens to separate tables and a requirement to leave your name and address behind the bar for track and trace purposes.
Some bars were even checking temperatures on arrival and a heightened security presence was in evidence everywhere you looked.
It was feared the long-awaited reopenings, described in some quarters as ‘Super Saturday’, would lead to disorder as Sheffielders binged at the first opportunity available.
However, despite dire warnings of hordes of revellers, the predicted crowds failed to materialise with people apparently more in the mood to take things slowly and sensibly at first.
Instead, the atmosphere felt more civilised - almost continental - with many couples enjoying a quiet drink at makeshift seating areas outside the city centre’s bars and pubs.
Outside the Slug and Lettuce, Neil and Kay said they couldn’t believe how quiet it was, but that the more relaxed atmosphere actually made for a pleasant change.
Some had missed the more raucous atmosphere of the pub, however, and were thoroughly enjoying their first sips of bar-bought booze in months.
One woman having a cigarette outside Cavells said not being able to go to the pub for three months had been ‘terrible’ and that she had been ‘climbing the walls with boredom’ at home.
And George Crawshaw, who was drinking with friends outside All Bar One said the last three months had been ‘a nightmare’ and that his first pint had been ‘like heaven’.
But not everyone was out for an alcoholic drink, including Lesley Ali who was meeting her friend Anna Awad for a coffee at Lynne’s Pantry on Suffolk Street.
Lesley said she was concerned about the impact the pandemic was having on city-centre businesses and wanted to support a locally-owned firm.
“It feels like things are moving back towards normality now,” said Lesley.
“If I’m going to get it, I’m going to get it and I’m more worried about the economy now.”
Outside the city centre in Crookes it was a similar story, as Dan and Kim McElvaney, from Broomhill, were among the first visitors at the Early Bar micropub for a glass of wine.
Sat in the afternoon sun outside one of only a few bars that had re-opened in the suburb today, Dan said it has been nice to be able to buy a drink at a bar again.
He said: "This was the last place we went for a drink before all the pubs closed in March. We wanted to come back again for our first now we can buy a drink again.”