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Elite Pubs begins preparation for reopening eight pubs in towns and villages in west Kent

A pub chain is rolling out a host of new features it hopes will allow it to safely open the doors to thirsty punters once again.

The eight venues across west Kent aim to reopen in July and each will have a host to meet and greet pre-booked parties, who will then be shown to their allocated seating.

The beer garden at The Potting Shed, Langley
The beer garden at The Potting Shed, Langley

Plans for socially-distanced drinking will focus on outside spaces and gardens with burger shacks and outside bars, allowing fewer people to be inside the pubs - which include The Cow Shed in West Malling and The Great House in Hawkhurst - at any one time.

A new app will also allow their customers to order and pay with little or no contact with any members of staff, in a further attempt to ensure social distancing is implemented.

Pubs and restaurants have been hard hit by the Covid-19 lockdown, when Boris Johnson announced he was taking away the "ancient, inalienable right" of a visit to the local as part of plans to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Elite Pubs owner Martial Chaussy said: "It has been a testing and tough time for all concerned but we have picked ourselves up and dusted off the bad news as much as possible.

"Implementing a click-and-collect service within a few weeks of lockdown has proven very popular with our regulars and some new faces as well.

The Vineyard in Lamberhurst is one of eight pubs in west Kent hoping to reopen in July
The Vineyard in Lamberhurst is one of eight pubs in west Kent hoping to reopen in July

"We have used this time to smarten and freshen up the pubs to hit the ground running once we get the go ahead from the government - we hope this to be July 4.

"We can't wait to open the doors again and do what we do best."

The chain says a full risk assessment will be carried out at the eight pubs which will reopen if the Government gives the green light. The Herbalist bar in Maidstone will remain closed, however, as there is not adequate outdoor space to operate safely.

Mr Chaussy said: "While the pubs have been closed we have been painting, upholstering, finishing off the four new en-suite bedrooms at The Farm House in West Malling, pruning and planting in the gardens to make sure that once we do get the go ahead from the government we can move quickly and safely."

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