MANY of Sunderland bars and restaurants are planning to open their doors this weekend, while others are taking a more cautious approach to relaunching their business.
The Government has given the green light for hospitality outlets to welcome customers back from 4 July, as long as they abide by social distancing guidelines.
And that includes booking in advance wherever possible, using the one way systems and using the hand sanitiser stations.
Customers will now find a number of changes at their favourite venues, including no standing at the bar and table service only.
While some pubs and bars will open their doors immediately, others are going to wait and open in the coming days and weeks.
Leisure outlets around the Sunniside area of the city will be opening on Saturday, as is 808 Bar and Kitchen at St Thomas Street, which has used lockdown to carry out a major refurbishment to make the venue more socially distancing friendly.
Carlton Johnston, one of 808’s directors, said he can’t wait to welcome customers back.
“We have been getting out plan together for some weeks to ensure that when we could open both customers and staff would feel safe,” he said.
Measures have included taking out some of the booths, introducing a one way system and lowering the overall capacity of the venue by 35 per cent.
“We have the luxury because we are quite a large venue of being able to accommodate people in a social distanced way.
“And because we are confident in all of the measures we’ve put in place, we can’t wait to welcome people back.”
The venue has put a booking system in place which is already at 90 per cent capacity for 4 July.
“We have very limited availability for walk-ins so we would prefer that people booked,” he said.
Other venues are being more cautious and have made the decision not to open on 4 July.
Ian Wong, owner of Asiana Fusion restaurant, has been operating a take-away and delivery service during lockdown and said he was planning to open on 8 July.
“We were just a bit concerned about what it might be like the first weekend after everywhere has been closed for so long,” he said.
“So we have decided to wait a few days. We have already got a large number of bookings and a lot of interest for when we do open the restaurant again and have put all of the necessary measures in place.”
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID said this weekend was going to be busy for the city and appealed to people to stick to the new rules.
“It is going to be a very different experience for everyone and we know how much people are looking forward to being able to go to bars and restaurants,” she said.
“But it is also very important to stick to the social distancing rules and to remember that there will be table service and no standing at the bar and that wherever possible people should book in advance.
“Every venue will have hand sanitiser stations and again it’s for everyone’s safety that these are used regularly and that everyone abides by the one way systems that will be in place.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy themselves but to still be mindful of the fact COVID-19 is still around and it’s important to stick to the rules.”