This week’s milestone date of Monday 17th May has been pencilled in our diaries for a few months now – the point promised on the ‘roadmap’ for a further easing of Coronavirus restrictions in England – assuming all went to plan.
Hospitality venues in Ruddington preparing to reopen indoors had begun wondering in recent days whether clusters of cases of the new ‘Indian’ COVID-19 variant in other parts of the UK might put a spanner in the works – following fresh warnings from some scientists not to proceed with ‘Step 3’ yet. However, the now boosted COVID-19 vaccine rollout for younger people, coupled with continuing measures to reduce person to person transmission, seem to have convinced the Government that its planned relaxing of rules can still go ahead.
Whilst many village residents have already braved the recent rather cool and showery weather to enjoy a drink or two outdoors at our hospitality venues offering exterior seating – or huddled under marquees at our pubs – from this week Ruddington’s pubs, cafes and restaurants can also welcome their customers inside – with groups of up to six people or two households able to mix indoors. These include The Old Bakehouse Tearoom (which had remained closed until now), The Ruddington Arms, The Bottle Top and Philo’s Espresso Bar (pictured above).
However, table service must remain in place with social distancing between tables and when using toilets and facilities. If the premises does not serve alcohol, customers can order and collect food and drink from a counter, however they must consume food and drink while seated. Customers using the toilet or baby change facilities must wear a face covering when doing so.
Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods Cllr Rob Inglis says: “The latest lifting of restrictions should help boost our local cafes, restaurants and bars even further, but we are reminding business owners of their responsibilities. This is to ensure they are fully aware of their obligations to operate securely, particularly table service and for all customers to embrace and abide by these guidelines that still need to be in place.”
He adds: “Our Environmental Health and Licensing teams are ready with assistance and advice every step of the way.”
Also changing this week, we are allowed (but not necessarily encouraged) to hug each other again, the ban on overseas holidays is lifted for “green list” countries, overnight stays are allowed, cinemas and theatres can reopen, universities can resume in-person teaching, and face masks are no longer needed in secondary school classrooms. Nevertheless, twice weekly home testing will remain in place to detect any infections. St Peter’s Junior School in Ruddington has advised parents and guardians: “Due to the increasingly positive picture, we are no longer making it a requirement to wear face masks when outside on the school site from Monday 17th May.” However, it adds: “Please continue to ensure that social distancing is being adhered to, particularly at drop off and collection times.”
Ruddington’s care home residents will be able to have up to five named visitors – with two visitors able to attend at once, provided they are tested and follow infection control measures. Residents will also have greater freedoms to leave their home without having to isolate on their return.
Up to 30 people are now able to attend weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes. The rule of 30 at funerals no longer applies – with venues such as St Peter’s Church and Wilford Hill Crematorium now being allowed to decide how many people can fit safely into their indoor and outdoor spaces with social distancing in place.
You can find further details about the May 17th changes in England >>HERE<<.
Not all Ruddington’s hospitality venues are taking their chance to reopen just yet. Lindsey Flint of The Victoria Tavern explains: “50% occupancy last time lost me money. Higher overheads from when we reopen mean we need to operate the business to the best of our ability whilst keeping a careful eye on everything we spend. We want our customers to feel reassured that when they come to the Tavern, they will be able to sit with friends and enjoy a good night out – rather than being told where to sit and who they can talk to!”
Sue Martin of The Cottage Hotel says the time is not yet right for them, either: “I am holding out for June when I hope we will be able to welcome back all our events, comedy nights and weddings. I’m using the time to get a new bar carpet and various other upgrades!”
Whilst cases right now are down to the levels of last summer, scientists are warning that the June 21st date mooted for ‘Step 4’ – removing all restrictions – could easily be put back if there’s another surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations. Therefore it’s a continuing case of ‘watch this space’!