PINTS were poured at pubs throughout the Tyne Valley for the first time in nearly four months last weekend as businesses reopened their doors to thirsty members of the public.

Pub owners and eager customers expressed their delight at revisiting the pubs after the industry experienced a sudden closure in March.

“Being closed for three months with no income was tough so we’re very relieved to be reopening and excited to be welcoming our guests back,” said Fiona Beck, manager of the County Hotel in Hexham.

The decision to close was a tough one to comprehend, Fiona said, and admitted that staff were in tears when they learned of the closure.

She added: “We are a little anxious about people’s expectations and we need to manage that to make sure they have a really great visit.

“Rather than reinventing ourselves when we reopen and to be something different we outlined what we needed to add or remove in order to be Covid secure.”

Walking inside the Dr Syntax pub in Prudhoe, drinkers are met with hand sanitiser, social distanced tables, a one way system and a track and trace contact book.

Stood behind a perspex screen at the bar, Olga Stokoe said “It’s been so strange and nobody knows what’s going to happen over the next few days.

“We hope it’s successful and everybody goes by the rules.

"We’ve got it in a one way system so when people leave they go out one door and in another.

“It’s really good to get people back through the doors, we’re really excited."

Drinkers expressed their delight at drinking their first draught pint in months at the West Wylam Inn in Prudhoe, and with sport also on the television, the lively pub atmosphere had returned.

Publican Michelle Denniston said the decision to reopen on Saturday was “nerve-racking” given the recommended government guidelines for pubs.

She explained: “The most difficult thing was the floor space and trying to figure out how many people you can have inside at one time.”

Staff at the County Hotel, however, have refrained from introducing stricter measures for fear of alienating customers.

“Masks, visors and perspex screens just distances us from the guests even further,” Fiona said.

“We want to create the same fabulous atmosphere that guests remember, and not for them to walk into an alien environment that is not enjoyable.”