AHEAD of plans to reopen on Saturday, the owner of a village pub has spoken of a future outlook for customers and owners.

The Bowes Hotel in Bardon Mill is one of many pubs and restaurants throughout the Tyne Valley that was set to reopen on Saturday, July 4 after receiving Government approval.

While owner Ian Millar is excited about reopening the Bowes doors after three months of closure, he remains uncertain about consumer response.

“We have no idea how many people are going to come through the doors,” he said, “I don’t think it is going to be a lot.”

While some pubs have expressed a degree of trepidation about reopening due to customer and staff safety, Ian has been working hard during the months of closure to reopen the pub as soon as possible.

“It is easy for us to reopen,” he admits. “We have put safety posters up around the pub and carried out staff training and risk assessments.”

But reopening while the UK continues to grapple with high numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths means strict measures have been enforced.

Ian explained: “We have workers at the bar and are providing a table service on the floor.

“We have tried to avoid using perspex screens because people go to the pub to socialise and if you use the screens you are defeating the object of what the pub is there to do.”

Staff have also changed the table and seating plan so all tables are back to back and not facing one another, and there will be a maximum number of people allowed to use the toilets at once.

The pub was expected to have experienced positive takings from the sunny spring and summer months, but will instead have to start on Saturday.

“It’s going to be tough for a lot of businesses to get through a winter where they have not built up the cash reserves in the summer” Ian said.

“We might get to January and February and see a lot of businesses close.”

Described by Ian as the “best weekend of the year”, the Bowes is recognised throughout the Tyne Valley as the host of its annual leek show and scarecrow competition in September, but the event could follow suit of various agriculture and horticultural shows by cancelling.

A once fully booked July hotel schedule has been scrapped and has seen reservations for the hotel’s six letting rooms reopen.

Reopening while coronavirus is still present in the UK, Ian said: “I think some of the safety measures we have introduced are here to stay.

“We still want it to be a pub - somewhere people can enjoy, but with new measures in place."