PUBS owners in Torfaen have welcomed customers back into pubs for the first time since December.
Outdoor hospitality was allowed to reopen in Wales from April 26, but first minister Mark Drakeford confirmed last week that indoor service could resume from today (Monday, May 17).
With the recent bad weather, many publicans welcomed back the return of indoor service, with customers no longer having to take a chance on the conditions and pub owners no longer at risk of a washout.
The Queen Inn in Upper Cwmbran didn’t open straight away after the outdoor hospitality regulations were changed, but owner Jane Edwards said they were delighted to welcome back their regulars indoors.
“It’s been nice to see our regulars again,” she said.
“We waited two weeks. After what we had in the summer, we thought we would wait for it to calm down. We then did a week outside before people could come inside.
“We have just spent a fortune having new seating done outside, so we are hoping for some good weather to come with it.
“After having 14 months of closures and not selling alcohol and all the different stages, it’ll be nice to now hopefully have the end of that.”
The Bush Inn, also in Upper Cwmbran, did reopen once outdoor hospitality was given the green light.
“The weather’s been a bit hit and miss but generally it’s been busy,” said owner Rhys Bailey. “It’s good to be open and see the community back again.”
Speaking before the pub reopened on Monday, Mr Bailey said: “It’s about getting back in the swing of things and back to normality. We are looking forward to it.
“It’s nice to have some guaranteed space indoors and people not having to worry about the weather. Even for May it is still quite cold outside.
“It’s fairly busy. We are fully booked most of the time this week.
“It’s nice to be back serving customers back in and having the staff back in.
“The only thing would be we’ve had the announcement and a date in advance [for reopening indoors] but we didn’t know the details until days before. Luckily we did have a fair idea of what they would be from the last time.”
Gerwyn Evans, of The Rising Sun in Abersychan, described the last three weeks as “a bit of a rollercoaster.”
“It’s been difficult especially when calling staff in and then its rained and its been a washout,” he said. “But in general it has been positive.
“It’s been nice to now be opening inside.
“It’s given us all a bit of positivity to be able to open indoors and have that normality.
“It hasn’t been the same sort of thing that it was the first time – we’re busier than a normal Monday but there wasn’t a clamour for tables.
“The biggest thing for us has been the cold. Generally we specialise in food. The hours we’ve been able to do have been limited with people eating outside as it’s getting cold and you don’t want to be sitting outside eating food in a cold beer garden.
“I still think the information that has been given out to the public has been very poor. They need to be informed of the things they need to do – like signing in and signing out.
“But generally, we are pleased to reopen.”