Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Shrewsbury are looking forward to “busy bars, smiling faces and full bellies” as they allow customers inside for the first time this year.
Some hospitality businesses have been open for outdoor drinking and dining since mid-April, but as of May 17 the vast majority have opened to serve customers indoors.
Shrewsbury BID has been working with Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council to support town centre businesses during the pandemic and helping to make the town centre safe and welcoming for visitors.
Some areas of Shrewsbury town centre, such as High Street and Victoria Quay, have been closed to traffic at certain times to allow businesses to make use of the extra outdoor space and enable people to maintain social distancing.
James Hitchin, owner of The Alb and Bombos, and member of the Shrewsbury BID voluntary board, said everyone was looking forward to welcoming customers back.
He said: “The past year has been a true test for everyone and much can be said for those in the hospitality industry – we faced an ever-changing landscape that needed to adapt at a week’s notice, to suit government guidance, alongside managing staff and keeping our own hopes up!
“Now, at last, some light at the end of the tunnel approaches us. Patience and struggle will be rewarded by busy bars, smiling faces, full bellies and laughing with friends.”
Since cafes, pubs and restaurants have been trading outdoor-only, business owners say the removal of traffic has been a welcome change.
Damian Harries, general manager at Hickorys in Victoria Quay, said recent experience had shown there was a real appetite for more outdoor trading opportunities in the future.
He said: “We’re very excited to be reopening our business fully, and we can’t wait to be able to welcome everyone back.
“Over the past month it has been amazing to see Victoria Quay full of diners creating such a vibe and atmosphere while the road has been closed. From our experience, the people have spoken and want to see this a permanent feature, sippin by the Severn.”
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said discussions were ongoing with Shropshire Council’s highways department about traffic interventions over the summer.
He said: “We have always lobbied on our members’ behalf to ensure the town centre is a safe and enjoyable place which entices people to stay for longer periods of time.
“We continue to talk to businesses and highways officials about the next steps as national Coronavirus restrictions change.”