Mid Sussex pubs await PM’s announcement that they can reopen for indoor service

Pubs and restaurants across Mid Sussex are eagerly awaiting confirmation that they can reopen for indoor service.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to confirm at 5pm today (May 10) the relaxation of rules in the next stage of England’s lockdown roadmap.

It is likely that indoor hospitality and household mixing will return from Monday (May 17).

“We’re hoping to hear that we can open indoors as soon as possible,” said Chris Harris, general manager of The Oak Barn Bar and Restaurant, Cuckfield Road, Burgess Hill.

James Cuthbertson at The Lockhart Tavern in The Broadway, Haywards Heath. Picture: Steve Robards

He said the recent weather has been unpredictable and that opening indoors will encourage more customers to come along.

“When you’re back indoors you can look at eventually getting the bigger groups again,” said Chris, adding that the restaurant is well known for hosting anniversaries and birthday parties

He also hopes there will not be another lockdown this summer because it would be ‘disastrous’ for small family businesses like The Oak Barn.

Staff at The Block & Gasket in Church Road, Burgess Hill, are also keen to see their customers indoors again.

Outside seating at The Oak Barn Bar and Restaurant in Burgess Hill. Picture: Oak Barn

A message on the pub’s Facebook page said: “We’ve got an amazing new menu to share with you and amazing Cocktails for you to try.”

James Cuthbertson director of The Lockhart Tavern in The Broadway, Haywards Heath, said reopening on May 17 would be the best the pub could expect.

“Hopefully the numbers and the government’s decision process will allow us to do it,” he said, adding that it would bring ‘a sense of normality’ back to the pub trade.

“We still haven’t got guidance, real firm guidance, on what it will look like when we open indoors and I think that’s pretty poor,” James added.

But he said the pub trade is resilient and will make it work.

“I just think we’ve been unfairly targeted,” he said.

“You’ve got supermarkets allowed to sell alcohol right the way through while our sales were taken away.”

Lance Nuttall from The Woolpack in Howard Avenue, Burgess Hill, also expects that pubs will reopen for indoor service next week.

“Boris always said he’d be data driven and cases are really coming down,” said Lance, who helps run the business with his wife, landlady Dee Allen.

“They’re about the same level they were last time they reopened, last year, but this time we’ve got the vaccine.”

Lance praised the ‘fortitude of the great British pubgoer’ for putting up with bad weather while enjoying a drink outside.

Click here to read more about the easing of restrictions on May 17.