IF YOU are thinking of visiting your favourite pub in Salisbury it may be too late.

With approximately 25% of the city’s eating and drinking venues taking advantage of the relaxation of lockdown rules, venue owners are expecting to reach capacity swiftly and many are accepting bookings only.

The new rules around social distancing means a severe reduction in the number of customers that the hospitality trade can allow across their threshold. Some will be able only to provide outdoor tables.

Amanda Newbery, who works closely with the hospitality sector and Pubwatch pubs and bars, said that of the 45 city centre venue owners she had been in contact with only 18 were going to open on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, we may have lost one or two so they will not open at all. Others will have a phased opening over coming weeks.”

A major concern for managers and owners when they held an online meeting this week was the public’s understanding of the new strict Covid Secure rules.

Tommy Roberts, Operations Manager Old Sarum Hotels, owners of the Old Mill, Harnham, and the Cathedral Hotel said: “We are having to stick to the government guidelines and we need people to realise things will be different.

“The last thing we want to do is put them off, but they need to understand that our staff will have new ways of working.

“Ideally, they should use online booking where appropriate and turn up early because there are likely to be delays through queuing to enter.

“People will not be able to pull tables together to make larger parties because that will break the distancing rules.

“And when we ask them for their personal details it is because part of our role will be record keeping for the purposes of Track and Trace.”