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Plough pub in Langley near Maidstone reopens after lockdown with new landlady

Imagine reopening a pub after three months of lockdown - with all new regulations in place - and it's also your first ever day as a landlady.

This was the case for Becky Leach, who welcomed punters back to the Plough in Langley alongside her mum, Debbie Leach, on Saturday.

Becky and Debbie Leach are now running the Plough in Langley
Becky and Debbie Leach are now running the Plough in Langley

Previously working at the Sutton Road tavern for four years as general manager, Miss Leach, 26, was made redundant when the business was liquidated by the previous owners earlier this year.

However, Wellington Pub Group, which now owns the building, persuaded Miss Leach and Debbie, 52, to take over.

But just as the pair signed the lease, the government announced all pubs, restaurants and clubs would have to shut for an unknown length of time.

"Me and all the other staff were gutted to be made redundant and didn't really expect it, it seemed to come out of nowhere," said Miss Leach, who lives above the pub.

"When I finally decided to take over, we were umming and ahhing about when to do our opening and decided on the Friday, and then we heard the announcement. It was terrifying. Trying to figure out how we were going to get the doors back open was hard."

Punters were welcomed back to the tavern on Super Saturday
Punters were welcomed back to the tavern on Super Saturday

Luckily, the owners drew up a new contract so rent payments wouldn't begin until the Plough was back up and running.

And the mother and daughter have been using the temporary closure to revamp the building and prepare for social distancing measures.

"We have been quite busy and used the time wisely, trying to get everything done," said Miss Leach.

However, the 26-year-old was understandably apprehensive on Friday, the night before reopening.

She said: "I was so nervous as it's all under my name now and all the staff were back. But we were also very excited to get back to work."

Several tables have been removed from the pub to enable social distancing
Several tables have been removed from the pub to enable social distancing

She added: "I know the pub well having been general manager for four years when the previous people owned it and before that I worked in the Chequers in Loose, which has helped."

As the Plough's 10 staff were also made redundant alongside Miss Leach, they were not able to enrol on the furlough scheme, but have nevertheless returned to work at the tavern.

The reopening weekend was "challenging", especially with so many new regualtions in place, but it was also "lovely to see the locals" and the "fantastic team" once again.

"It was really good to be back open and it was a nice, steady kind of busy," said Miss Leach.

The pub now has a designated entrance and exit route, with hand sanitiser and floor markings throughout.

Barriers have been put up to organise queues waiting for entry and a large portion of tables have been removed.

A marquee is also available in the garden to allow for more outdoor space and staff can wear masks and gloves if they wish, provided by the pub.

The pub is open Tuesday to Sunday with a new menu available and tables can be booked here.

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