People across Tayside and Fife have been welcomed back to beer gardens for the first time in nearly four months in what has been described as an important milestone for the industry.
The move, which has been warmly welcomed by landlords and customers alike, is part of the Scottish Government’s phased easing of coronavirus restrictions.
However, outdoor eating and drinking is, and will continue to be a markedly different experience with the public now required to follow strict social distancing and hygiene rules.
Many establishments are operating one-way access, booking and ordering procedures.
Customers will also have to leave their contact details so they can be found in the event of an outbreak as part of stringent track and trace measures.
Pubs and restaurants are expected be able to welcome customers indoors from July 15.
In Dundee, drinkers queued outside the city’s biggest beer gardens to get their first draught since lockdown was announced.
Kilted Kangaroo, on Roseangle, transformed its generous outside area to allow even more punters to enjoy a beer in the sun.
A bar has been set up outside to encourage social distancing as the indoor bar remains out of action.
A queue with dozens of drinkers was also seen at Duke’s Corner, Brown Street, in the afternoon and its outdoor area was also close to capacity.
The smaller outdoor area of Giddy Goose, on Perth Road, also appeared to be full in the afternoon.
At Kilted Kangaroo, customers booked a slot ahead of time to guarantee a seat.
Emily McKenzie worked at the bar for two year, including when it was known as the Boozy Cow, before graduating in medicine at Dundee University earlier this year.
Along with other recently graduated junior doctors, Emily joined Ninewells Hospital in the fight against coronavirus.
Monday was her first day off in several days and she was among the first through the doors for a drink.
She said: “I feel like I have earned this. With it being a day off, I wanted to make the most of it.
“I have worked here for two years so I wanted to support the pub as well. The first sip was very nice.
“I think Dundee has done really well against coronavirus, but it’s still really important that everyone follows the government advice.”
Liz and Bob Hutchison were also among the drinkers in Kilted Kangaroo on Monday afternoon.
The married couple had not planned on going to the pub and instead intended to do some shopping, but they tried their luck and managed to secure some seating on a bench.
Liz said: “It’s been really nice to be around people again and hear everyone having a good time.”
Bob said: “I’m a Guinness drinker and unfortunately they don’t have that here at the moment so I’m just on the lager, but beggars can’t be choosers.
At the Laurel Bank Hotel in Markinch, Fife, clientele were welcomed back to the sounds of Methil and District Pipe Band while staff were on hand to help customers at every turn.
“It’s just great to be back, doing something that feels normal again,” said regular Danny Gourlay, enjoying a drink in the beer garden with his daughter Lisa.
“It’s just another morale booster for the community as a whole as we start to come out of the coronavirus crisis.
Fellow customer Tom Richie said his pint tasted “better than ever”.
He said: “Other than for food shopping or essential exercise this is the first time I’ve been out since the lockdown was announced and it feel fantastic.”
The Scone Arms installed an outdoor hand-wash basin in anticipation of reopening its garden to the public.
It can be operated using a foot pedal to avoid touching it.
In Almondbank, The Badgers pub reopened on Monday afternoon, with new rules in place to ensure safety.
The establishment has become entirely cash free, accepting only card payments, while customers can only gain access through the back gate.
In a statement welcoming back customers, the Bank Bar in Perth city centre said: “Your safety is our absolute priority so we’ve planned our outdoor space with this in mind along with a proactive hygiene policy.
“Let’s get together (safely) and enjoy laughs and good times again.”
The statement also highlighted a list of guidelines to help ensure customers’ safety as they visited the premises.
This included the compulsory adherence to social distancing in and around The Bank, online ordering, and card and contactless payments being preferred.
Emma McLarkin chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said the reopening of many establishments after 15 weeks of closure, marked an “important milestone”.
She added: “Things will be a little different with added mitigation measures to help protect customers and ensure they feel safe, but they will still be the same places we all know and love.
“We all have a shared interest in continuing to suppress the virus and the pub sector is definitely ready to play our part in welcoming our customers back responsibly.”
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