Coronavirus: Isle of Man pubs welcome back drinkers – BBC News

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Pubs across the Isle of Man have thrown open their doors after the lifting of the island’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

All pubs, clubs and restaurants had to close on 23 March to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

But on Monday the island became the first place in the British Isles to scrap social distancing after recording no cases for 28 days.

Manx pub-goers welcomed the chance to return to their local for a drink.

There are thought to be about 50 pubs on the island, which serve a population of about 85,000.

At The Cat With No Tail in Douglas, extra precautions have been introduced, including screens in front of the till and hand sanitiser stations.

Andy Openshaw was one of the first through the doors to enjoy a drink with his parents.

“It just felt so strange after so long,” said the 44-year-old.

His 78-year-old father, Malcolm Openshaw, said it was “wonderful” to be able to go out with his family again.

Meanwhile Raymond Hands, 84, said it was “great” to finally end three months in self-isolation.

He said he had no apprehension about having a pub lunch with a friend now that the island was “28 days clear” of the virus.

“We still have to be careful and use the hand sanitiser and that, but we’ve been very lucky indeed,” he added.

Analysis: Sadhbh O’Shea, BBC News

The familiar chatter of voices and clinking of glasses has returned to pubs on the Isle of Man.

It has been nearly three months since residents could go to their local for a pint.

Tentative at first, people quickly relaxed back into what many took for granted before.

But hand sanitiser everywhere and protective glass by the tills are a reminder that we are not quite living in normal times.

Jane Canning, 51, said she had been looking forward to the “buzz” of visiting the pub again.

“I’m very proud of this island,” she added.

Fellow walker Dawn Thomas, 50, said being able to go out again was “just brilliant”.

She said that while there were “always concerns” over the possible return of coronavirus, pubs’ reopening had made things “normal for now”.

Laura Goldsmith, 25, said it was “really nice to be able to get out of the house”.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do it, so it’s nice to just come out for some lunch and do something different.

“It’s nice to go back to normality.”

The pub’s assistant manager Meaghann O’Loughlin said she was “so happy” to finally have customers back.

The three months of lockdown included the scrapping of the Isle of Man TT festival, when thousands of visitors boost the island’s economy each year.

“Losing that trade and then also losing our local customers’ daily conversations is quite hard,” she added.

Charles Miller, of the Two Fellas micropub and The Whitehouse in Peel, said it would take time for the industry to “catch up”.

He said: “The brewer needs at least three weeks to brew beer and to get it into a pub and for it to be ready to serve. It will be a three-week window.

“We’re not quite ready but we’ll do our best.”

Mr Miller added that opening hours would be restricted “for the next week or two”.

“We don’t know what the reaction is going to be … we want sensible behaviour, so we will be closing at 22:30 BST.”

However, not all establishments will be opening their doors just yet – Brewers Heron and Brearley said only 16 of its 35 pubs were ready to welcome back customers.


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