The Prime Minister made it very clear in his statement at the beginning of April that he would be heading to the nearest pub on 12th April and ‘cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer’. Alas the PM’s mission was disrupted by the very sad news that Prince Philip had died at the grand old age of 99. But I know that when an appropriate time has passed the Prime Minister will want to go to a pub to toast the Duke of Edinburgh’s memory.
The opening of beer gardens and outdoor hospitality on 12th April is wonderful news for us all – not least publicans and their staff who have spent so much of the last year on furlough or sorting table service and new ordering systems to minimise contact between staff and customers. It’s a sign that our roadmap and our vaccine programme are working and that we may be able to hope for better times ahead.
I’m also delighted the Government has announced that pavement licences will be extended for a further 12 months, making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make outdoor dining a reality with seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks.
Here in Ongar we are fortunate in having some great pubs – one of which (The Two Brewers), I notice, is undergoing a major revamp. One of my missions for the summer is to have a pint in as many of local pubs as possible – possibly not always non-alcoholic – so if you have a favourite venue and would like to have a drink with your MP, or a friendly landlord who’s up for a chat about how things are progressing as we come out of lockdown, let me know.
Photo from pre-lockdown times at the Black Bull, Fyfield