PUBS across the Blackmore Vale will be reopening their doors today in the latest lift of lockdown measures.

With spaced out furniture, a reduced number of customers and table service however, it will not be the experience that we are used to.

Two pubs have opened up to the Journal about what changes to expect to adhere to government guidelines and social distancing measures, in a bid to protect the public and help halt the spread of Covid-19 as society starts returning to ‘normal’.

The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury has undergone a transformation with new floor markings, hand sanitiser stations and spaced out tables, and the team is encouraging sales to be completed using a phone app.

There will also be table service, careful management of the bar and floor area, limitations on the number of people onsite and regular cleaning. It has also been advised to book seating in advance.

James Brooke-Webb, director of Stay Original Co which owns The Grosvenor Arms, said that he “can’t wait to get going”, adding: “There are lots of changes, all in line with the most recent Government guidelines. It feels great to be coming back.

“Everyone is coming back from being furloughed, now we’re just keen to get started.

“We have just followed the Government’s advice and I’m sure all other pubs will be the same. And now hopefully the nice weather will stay for the rest of the summer.”

The Phoenix Inn in Gillingham will have similar procedures in force, as well as blocked off areas and a one-way system, and a marquee and picnic benches will be in the car park forming an outdoor space.

According to The Phoenix Inn manager Gordon D’all, the pub is “too small” for table service, but around 50 to 60 people will be able to enjoy the area at one time, adding that the changes will make for a “strange experience”.

When asked what will happen if customers do not follow social distancing measures, Gordon said: “Well look at Bournemouth beach, the current attitude is ‘party time’. All we can do is tell [customers] and ask them to leave [if necessary].

"We need to take responsibility for our own actions. We are hopeful our visitors will be sensible.”

A record of anyone visiting pubs will be kept for 21 days in order to aid the ‘track and trace’ service.

Other local pubs opening include The Ship Inn and The Dolphin Inn in Gillingham, and The Half Moon and Angola ‘76 in Shaftesbury.