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Pubs in Kent get ready to welcome back customers to their beer gardens

It's been a long wait, but from Monday, you will finally be able to have a pint at your local - as long as it has an outside area.

From April 12, pubs and restaurants in Kent will be able to serve drinks and food to sit-down customers in beer gardens, patios or courtyards.

The Chequers beer garden in pre-Covid days
The Chequers beer garden in pre-Covid days

Social distancing rules will still apply.

The news has been greeted with mixed reactions from the pub trade, with some barely able to contain their excitement, and others, with more limited space, worrying whether it will be economic to open.

Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said she expected many pubs to open even if it meant running at a loss, because landlords were "desperate" to reconnect to their customers.

Shaw Cavill, owner of the Chequers pub at Loose, has a beer garden and said that he planned to open from noon till 8pm, if there were customers, but said: "It will be weather dependent, as there is no shelter. So if it rains or is too cold, we may have to close."

At The Plough at Langley, landlady Rebecca Leach-Rumble and her partner Adam Wyles have installed a marquee "at great expense" across the pub's patio area so that around 55 customers will at least be able to sit in the dry.

The outdoor courtyard at The Plough at Langley
The outdoor courtyard at The Plough at Langley

Mr Wyles said: "We are hoping to open from noon till 9pm - we have fairy lights in the marquee - but it does really depend on the vagaries of the British weather."

Andy Urbanek, co-owner of The Poet at Matfield, said: "We are certainly going to open, 100%."

He has put up a large gazebo, laid floorboards and installed outdoor heaters to ensure his customers are comfy.

Most of his customers go there to eat, but there will be a standing area, to imitate being at the bar, for those who just want a drink.

He will open from 12noon to 2pm and from 6pm till 9pm, Monday to Thursday, and longer at weekends.

Andy Urbanek of The Poet: We will 100% be open
Andy Urbanek of The Poet: We will 100% be open

At The Swan on the Loose Road, Maidstone, landlord Steve Ervin expects to be able to accommodate up to 70 people in his outdoor area. He said: "We have a gazebo with seating underneath, and also large umbrellas over the benches.

He is prepared to open from noon till 11pm, if there are the customers. He said: "There' only really lighting over one area, so perhaps people will drift away once it starts to get dark.

"We'll just play it by ear."

The Bull at Linton will also be opening. As well as a large garden, it also has an outside bar.
The landlords said: "No booking necessary. Just turn up."

The outdoor facilities at the Duke of Marlborough pub
The outdoor facilities at the Duke of Marlborough pub

At the Duke of Marlborough in Union Street, Maidstone, owners Danny and mum Jan Penman will celebrate their 21st anniversary in May.

"We are opening our large garden at the rear of the property on Monday with approximately 30 tables," Danny said. "Waitress service will be provided and all government guidelines will be followed.

"There is a TV in the garden, showing all live sport. Bookings are advised especially at weekends, although walk-ins are still available."

He added: "Luckily for me, just before the last lockdown, we had completely painted everything. So for this time around, everything was already done.

"It's good that we are a bit ahead. There is no rushing about."

Live music will return to the garden stage from late June every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

For a list of some of the best pub gardens to visit, click here.


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