Covid: Restaurants, pubs and cafes reopen outdoors for first time this year in Wales

  • Watch the report by ITV Wales reporter Mike Griffiths

Restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars have reopened across Wales outdoors as part of the country's plan to lift coronavirus restrictions.

It is the first time hospitality businesses have been able to serve customers with more than just takeaway service since just before last Christmas.

Eager customers queued at midnight at one bar in Cardiff to get their first taste of dining out this year, even if it was just for a pint.

Outdoor attractions can also begin to resume business while organised outdoor activities for up to 30 adults can take place from Monday.

The easing of the rules comes as other restrictions were relaxed on Saturday, allowing any six people to meet up outdoors.

The next rule changes in Wales are set to take place on May 3 - when places like gyms and leisure centres can reopen and people can form extended households.

Restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars in England have been able to serve customers outside since April 12. Credit: PA Images

People have been unable to buy alcohol to consume at hospitality businesses in Wales since December 4, when tough restrictions were imposed on the sector in response to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Pubs, bars and restaurants were banned from selling alcoholic drinks unless as a takeaway and forced to shut at 6pm.

When Wales went into lockdown on December 20, hospitality businesses were then forced to close, but could continue to offer takeaways.

One pub landlord in Kinmel Bay said his business had been closed for so much of the past year, he could not wait to reopen.

Jim Smith said: "In actual fact, if you look at it over the last 12 months, we've been closed for 70% and even the 30 % has been under massive restrictions. So to say I'm looking forward to it is basically an understatement."

Boom Battle Bar in Cardiff's Brewery Quarter decided to make the most of the new found freedom by opening from midnight until 3am on the first day of trading.

The owners of the bar said they decided on the early opening after seeing the scenes in English cities as pubs reopened there earlier this month.

While the scenes in Cardiff were not quite as busy, more than 60 people queued up to get their hands on their first pub pint despite the near freezing temperatures.

The bar was open from midnight to 3am and around 60 people queued on Sunday evening to take advantage of the first opportunity to eat out in Wales.

At the front of the queue ready for their first drink were friends Kyle Hill, Tom Virgo, Holly Khan and Craig Datzell, who arrived just before midnight."We're very very eager to come for a drink," said Holly.

"We had a couple of drinks before hand while prepping and getting ready."There's definitely the novelty...You'll never be able to say again 'I went back to the pub for the first time at midnight'."

The bar's manager, James Finn, said Cardiff Council as well as South Wales Police were aware of their plans to reopen at midnight. Officers from South Wales Police did visit the bar during its brief opening to ensure that all restrictions were being adhered to.

It will not be until some time in May that people can dine inside restaurants and bars in Wales.

Mr Finn said his bar had only opened last year so they had not experienced much trade yet, although this first week of reopening promises to be busy.

He said: "We opened last year between the two lockdowns and we caught some of the autumn internationals which was amazing.

"I've grown up in Cardiff so I know it well as a city but we only got to open two or three weeks during that time which was tough. We had a really great reaction, it was just a shame that we only had that limited time.

"Over the week we're sort of looking at 250 to 300 people booked in a day with Saturday being the busiest.

"The last week has been anticipation, getting ready for it. Previously we had a lot of guidance and things to prepare for - whether that's track and trace systems, one way systems, whatever it might be that the government thinks will make it the safest space."

From May 3, gyms can reopen and indoor exercise classes for up to 15 people can take place. Credit: PA Images

From April 26, up to 30 adults can take part in outdoor organised activity, meaning wedding receptions can take place outside with the same limit of up to 30.

Meeting people from other households indoors is still only allowed in a few circumstances.

Wales will completely enter Alert Level 3 coronavirus restrictions on May 3.

On that date, gyms and leisure centres can reopen, and people can form extended households with one other household.

Indoor supervised activities for children, indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults like exercise classes, and reopening community centres has also being brought forward from May 17 to May 3.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said indoor hospitality and all tourist accommodation in Wales could reopen on May 17 were he to be in government after the May 6 Senedd election, while the main opposition parties have already committed to the same date if they win the poll.