Today marks the reopening of hospitality across Scotland with beer gardens, al fresco dining and indoor dining all open for the first time in four months.
And restaurant bosses and publicans across the north and north-east will open their doors, both indoors and outside, to customers eager to get back to support the industry.
Reopening in Level 3, the guidelines allow for alcohol to only be sold outdoors in beer gardens until 10pm, with indoor venues closing at 8pm and not allowed to serve alcohol.
Beer gardens near me
Find beer gardens across Tayside and Fife with interactive map
Beer gardens up and down the country have busy rosters lined up for the next few weeks, with hundreds of people booking in to make the most of the start of the good weather and being able to enjoy a drink at venues again.
In Level 3 the “rule of six” applies to those venues operating outdoors with up to six people from six households allowed to frequent businesses under one booking. However, one metre social distancing must still take place, which has forced many owners to only allow four people from different households so they can socially distance at their tables.
Meanwhile, indoors, hospitality will welcome up to six individuals from two households.
While the public is eager to get out and support hospitality, venue managers, owners and staff are equally as excited to be welcoming customers back.
Taypark House Gin Garden
Glenn Roach, chef/director at Taypark House in Dundee, said additional measures will be put in place to ensure people’s safety.
“All staff will be in masks as per government guidelines and our tables will actually be more than two metres apart because luckily we have the space to do that,” he said.
“We have also set a two-hour dwell time for when the guests arrive so they will only be able to stay for two hours unfortunately. Hopefully, that will help us to socially distance, all table service and hopefully, we can get back to normality soon.”
Director William Salve said the uniqueness of the outdoor space is a huge draw for people in the city.
“This is one of the best and unique gin gardens we have in Dundee as of now because of the selection of gins we have,” he said.
“We also have a barbecue menu which will go very well with the gin garden as such. We will have specials every day; cocktail of the day, cocktail of the week as well and we are hoping that the weather will be good for us.”
Looking at opening hours, and the requirement to be outside, Glenn added that they are certainly going to maximise the space they have available.
“We have decided to open a bit more outside, opening Monday to Sunday. Probably in the past before Covid-19 we definitely didn’t utilise the space as much and we are definitely going to do our best to do as much outside as we can because we know that’s where transmission is kept low. So, maybe, definitely, bring a coat.”
On opening, William said: “Can’t wait as it’s been more than a year now that we have been looking forward to this day. The time is here and it is getting real now as you can see. We are getting ready with the gin bar and the food and really can’t wait.
Glenn added: “Can’t wait to see guests again and get back to some sort of normality. A bit of social interaction – I think we are all craving that at the moment.”
Picturesque setting at Atholl Arms Hotel
Owner Zsolt Balogh, of the Atholl Arms Hotel in Perthshire, is looking forward to reopening his establishment’s picturesque beer garden that sits along the banks of the River Tay.
He said: “Before the pandemic, we had a beer garden available for a very small number. But the pandemic taught us a lesson to focus on our outdoor areas – so we created a marquee, which can seat 100 people socially distanced, regardless of the weather.
“We had this installation installed last year, so we could provide a service for our customers before the second lockdown until late November, even when the weather was not so hospitable. We have increased the number of tables and benches, adding a new decking for the reopening.
“People can enjoy the view and enjoy sitting by the river, look over towards Birnam Hill and allow them to spend time with the people they’ve missed during the pandemic.
“Our new addition in the beer garden is a nice spot which will also be available for venues, private events, family celebrations, small weddings of up to 30 people, in line with social contact limits to organise Covid-safe events. You can enjoy your meals and drinks under the colourful parasols. This decking is also ideal for live music, so this summer we can invite musicians for outdoor performance as well, not only indoors.
“After the cold winter and tough months of lockdown, we really hope for a long and warm summer, so we will sell ice cream and slush puppies in the garden this year. Our menu offers a wide selection of classic and modern dishes, vegan and vegetarian options included. Dogs are also more than welcome and we always have some treats for our furry four-legged friends.”
The hotel, and by extension their beer garden, is also set up to allow customers to socialise safely while following government guidelines.
Zsolt continued: “We’ve created our policies following all the government’s advice and all the new regulations. As you can see, we’re socially distancing all the tables, we’ve created a sanitising station and we’re extending the beer garden to allow people to sit more securely and safely.
“We’ve created all the checking points so that people can use their own phones to check in and use the government’s QR code system, which is called Check In Scotland.
“We do ask guests to download the Check In Scotland app before entering and then check in on arrival, and please remember to check out when you leave the premises.
“We are looking forward to opening very much. I’m also looking forward to having all my employees back on board and seeing people happy and able to socialise within our very safe environment, enjoying life and try to go back to some sort of normality.”
Test and Protect in place at The Bank Bar
David Taylor of The Bank Bar in Perth explained that they have made numerous measures to ensure the safety of their customers, too.
“We have QR codes from NHS Test and Protect. Customers will scan the QR code on entry into the building, they will then be taken to a table where they will be seated,” he said.
“On all the tables at the Bank Bar there will be a QR code that the customers can scan and allow them to order online from their own mobile phone and our staff will bring the drinks out to the table.
“All tables are two metres distance apart from each other and we are taking into consideration the one-metre distance between people from different households when they are sitting at each individual tables.
“There are sanitiser stations all throughout the building, including on entry to the building and also you approach the toilets as well.”
With a lot of work having been done on the premises, indoors and out, The Bank Bar is ready to welcome customers again for the first time since December last year.
David added: “The last four months we have managed to do some refurbishments, the flooring inside the main bar itself, the seating area in the bar. Outside we have done new seats, new CCTV cameras, new lighting so it is a bit more vibrant for people who visit the premises.
“The last year has been a struggle for the business but once we reopen we will be picking ourselves back up.
“Me personally I am looking forward to reopening. I have thrown myself back into work getting the place ready to reopen again and I can’t wait to serve the first pint to one of those excited customers when we reopen.”