Pack your thermals: English drinkers brave snow to lift a pint in pub gardens


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© Reuters. Pubs reopen for outdoor service as COVID-19 restrictions ease, in Hertford

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By Sarah Young and William Russell

LONDON (Reuters) – Drinkers in England wrapped up warm on Monday, braving snow, rain and freezing temperatures to enjoy their first pint from a pub in over three months as outdoor hospitality reopened from a strict lockdown.

In a pub garden in south London, 19-year old student Sasha Carrington said her group of friends were planning to stay all day.

“We’ve got our layers on, thermals, we’re going to stay outside,” Carrington said, waiting for staff to bring her a pint of lager, a treat after only bottles and cans during lockdown.

After seeing the snow falling first thing, John O’Connor, a 32-year old railway worker, said he almost had second thoughts about coming to the pub, but a few hours later, the weather brightened, and he couldn’t resist a drink with a friend.

“It’s about time, really, to be fair. It’s nice to see people again,” he said.

About 50 pub-goers headed to the Fox on the Hill, a J D Wetherspoon pub in Camberwell, south London before midday on Monday, glad to be back socialising.

“I am so happy that it’s open again, its unbelievable, I’m so happy,” said Tony Blake, 59.

On another table, 19-year old student Dylan said he was pleased life was getting back to normal: “It’s just freedom that we can go to the pub again.”

Pubs across England have erected temporary awnings over their outside spaces to stop the rain from threatening their income after a year of financial hardship when COVID-19 restrictions repeatedly forced them to open and shut services.

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At the Fox on the Hill, there were dozens of new tables next to the car park to fit in more punters, who under COVID-19 rules can sit in groups of six or two households.

Matthew McGuinness, a 21-year old student, said he thought people’s excitement about pubs re-opening was such that it was going to be hard for staff to enforce social distancing rules.

“It’s going to be ridiculous. They’re going to be overrun. They won’t be able to maintain people staying on their tables, people are going to be pulling tables together and just seeing each other,” he said.

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