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Medway pubs set for reopening date on July 4 after government ease lockdown measures

Landlords across Medway are preparing themselves to reopen their pubs on Saturday, July 4, with cautious optimism.

While welcoming the move to reduce social-distancing to one metre and enabling them to serve more customers, they are still awaiting details before deciding whether it’s worth it financially.

John Brice is chairman of the Medway Licensed Victuallers' Association and landlord of the King George V pub in Brompton
John Brice is chairman of the Medway Licensed Victuallers' Association and landlord of the King George V pub in Brompton

John Brice, chairman of Medway’s Licensed Victuallers’ Association, said the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson was long-awaited good news for the trade.

Mr Brice, who owns the King George V pub in Brompton, said: “We sort of knew it was coming because breweries have already started delivering.

“Some pubs were going through financial problems before lockdown, so they might not get through this.

“How is social distancing going to work in micropubs?

“Young people will be flocking back to the high streets, but older people living in residential areas might be more reluctant.

No play at The Cricketers in Rainham High Street during the coronavirus pandemic back in April. Picture: Chris Davey
No play at The Cricketers in Rainham High Street during the coronavirus pandemic back in April. Picture: Chris Davey

“Also, people have got used to drinking at home.

“We have got to entice them back.”

Ryan Denny, manager of the Jolly Knight and Ye Arrow in Rochester Hight Street, was still questioning whether it would be viable to open his doors again.

He said: “We just don’t know details at the moment. How many people are we allowed, do we have to keep a record?

“We run a carvery on a Sunday. Are we able to do that? And we have music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Hopefully, we will be able open, but people coming out to have a drink to go to the Casino, won’t bother because it won’t be open.

The Jolly Knight, High Street, Rochester
The Jolly Knight, High Street, Rochester

“Also, people in Rochester have got used to buying a drink and gathering in the street. And we have to pay our staff.”

Shepherd Neame, the country's oldest brewery, has announced the Ship and Trades in Chatham will be among the first 11 of its pubs to start pulling pints again.

Chief executive Jonathan Neame said he hoped around two thirds of his pubs would be back in business by the end of July.

Thomas Waghorn pub, Chatham
Thomas Waghorn pub, Chatham

He said: "We very much welcome this announcement, which provides much needed clarity for our business, and for the beer and pub sector.

"Our mission is clear: to protect our team members and reassure customers they are safe in our pubs, while still ensuring they enjoy an authentic and engaging experience in our distinctive and individual pub environments."

Mr Neame said the company would continue reviewing the government guidance but pubs have already started preparing to reopen.

The Thomas Waghorn, Railway Street, Chatham will be among the Wetherspoon pubs to reopen
The Thomas Waghorn, Railway Street, Chatham will be among the Wetherspoon pubs to reopen

Meanwhile, staff working for the Greene King chain, which has pubs across the Towns, including The Cricketers in Rainham were awaiting guidance.

The company has spent £15 million investing in safety measures.

These including perspex screens, controlled toilet monitoring, pre-booked tables and a “pub host” to show customers where to sit.

Wetherspoons, which also has several outlets in Medway, including the Thomas Waghorn in Railway Street, Chatham, will have protective screens between tables and staff will be wearing protective goggles and masks.

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