PUBS, restaurants and hotels in and around Salisbury are preparing to reopen this weekend - but how different an experience will it be?

Nathan Muirhead, owner of The New Inn in Amesbury has spent the past few months refurbishing the premises and finding ways to comply with the new Covid guidelines.

Although the lockdown announcement was “a bit of a shock”, the 35-year-old has been able to make the most of the support made available by the government to not only keep his business afloat but also improve it.

He said: “We got a £10,000 grant which was really helpful in keeping the overheads paid and we were also able to get a loan from the bounce back scheme which was amazing.

“We used that money to refurbish the pub, changing the lighting, the furniture, landscaping the garden so we can actually fit more tables and painting the outside of the pub.”

Social distancing measures that customers will be asked to adhere to from 12pm on Saturday include a one-way system, free hand sanitiser stations within the pub, two-metre or one-metre plus distance between tables and using a side entrance which allows social distanced queues.

Six members of staff (seven during night shifts) will be on duty over the weekend to make sure “people don’t take shortcuts”. Some of them will be solely responsible for sanitising the venue.

Despite the changes, brought in to make the pub Covid secure, Nathan says he has tried to make sure the experience for customers will remain “as near to normal as possible”.

He added: “Lots of places are asking people to order on apps and we thought about that but it takes away some of the experience of having a conversation with other people so we’re doing table service only. Staff will come and take your order so we can still keep that interaction.”

Asked whether he is confident customers will respect the new rules, he said: “We’ll take a friendly approach to make sure people stay in their own bubble, sat at the table until they leave.

“Some people think that there’s going to be people really drunk but if people want to enjoy the experience they need to follow the rules.

“If you start messing around you will be asked to settle down or you will be asked to leave but our customers are very friendly, I never had any problems so I’m very confident.”