The day is almost here. After months of waiting and craving, we’re just hours away from finally being able to enjoy a cold pint in the pub.
People in England can’t wait to get back into their favourite boozer on Saturday, and bargain chain JD D Wetherspoon is preparing for a busy weekend.
Staff at the Mossy Well in Muswell Hill will open its doors two hours before they’re allowed to sell alcohol, and they’re expecting to have people queuing outside.
However there are going to be some big changes in the pub to ensure customers and staff can follow social-distancing rules safely .
When customers do return to the vast public house, which is inside a former North London tea room, they’ll notice adaptations before they’re even inside.
Front doors have been clearly marked so there is one way in and one way out, and tables have been spaced to the one metre plus distance according to government guidelines.
There are hand sanitiser dispensers newly installed on walls and stickers at the bar clearly mark where customers should stand.
Anyone staying for a drink will have to do so from a table, meaning propping up the bar and stand up drinking between tables will be strictly prohibited.
Those who do choose to queue at the bar will be asked to pay by card to minimise contact, although cash payments will still be taken.
Around tables and in front of the bar there are plastic screens designed to stop the spread the droplets, and single use paper food menus will be placed on tables for hungry punters.
Anyone used to ordering Wetherspoon’s food may notice one change as soon as their table is set, however.
Wetherspoon spokesperson Eddie Gershon explains: “The ketchup’s different. We’ve had to move from bottles to sachets for obvious reasons – we hope people won’t mind too much.”
When the Mossy Well is full it can hold 550 people but that figure will be considerably less under the new tables-only set up.
And when there’s no more room, a one-in one-out queue will be operated at the door by a member of staff with a counter.
As for who enforces social distancing rules inside, Wetherspoons is placing faith in their loyal customers to adhere to the rules and drink responsibly.
Gershon said: “The idea is to create a drinking environment which the public will recognise and feel comfortable in.
“We won’t be policing the toilets and we won’t have staff walking around with a tape measure, we have signs up with very clear directions and our staff will be on hand to answer any questions.
“What people will find when they come back to their local Wetherspoon is that the atmosphere is still great and the beer still tastes good.
“That’s what’s they’ve been waiting for and we’re very excited to be able to give people that service again.”
But staff are excited to welcome people back through their doors – and they’re preparing for a very busy weekend.
Eddie said: “We don’t have a license to sell alcohol here until 10am, but we’ll open the door at 8am and I fully expect to see people waiting outside.
“Punters have been waiting a long time to go to their local, it’s part of normal life for lots of people – walking back through those doors will be a big boost.”