PRIME Minister Boris Johnson yesterday declared that ‘our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end’, after he slashed the two metre social distancing rule to one metre, and said that restaurants, pubs, cinemas, hairdressers and museums can open from July 4.

The announcement was mostly welcomed by people, particularly those working in the hospitality industry across the region.

Those looking to have a staycation this year were also met with good news, after Mr Johnson said that caravan and holiday parks could reopen from next Saturday.

The Potting Shed in Northallerton has remained fully closed during lockdown and its assistant manager Michael Doodson is raring to get back to business.

He said: “Everyone is really excited, it’s like the world is finally starting to spin again, we’re 100 per cent happy to be reopening.”

Asked whether he thinks people will be wary of returning to pubs due to lingering concerns over coronavirus, Mr Doodson said: “It depends on the person, you can’t really base it on how a company responds or how a company runs things. This is like a world first, so it just depends on each person and how confident they feel. I feel good and with all the procedures and guidelines that are coming through, as long as we follow them and stick to them it will be good. I feel confident and good knowing that if we stick to them, nothing should be able to go wrong.”

Alan Chapman, owner of The White Feather Bistro in Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough, said: “It sounds really good, people need businesses to be back up and running. Everyone is paying rent - we’ve had no rent relief. I am paying £1,300 a month rent and getting no takings.

“The social distance is down to a metre which will help.

“Customers coming in themselves have got to be sensible. We are introducing paper table cloths, hand sanitiser, masks, face visors, paper menus and table service and book by appointment.

“We’ve been doing a deep clean in my pub.

“We’re getting a lot of people winging about having to give their details [for the NHS test and trace] - they won’t get in my pub unless they do, it makes sense if we do that. If anyone gets it it means we can get in touch with people. We’ll be taking their name, address and contact number as well.

“People are screaming to get back. Everyone I know are screaming to get back to pubs and entertainment - time will tell.”

Vicki Jowett landlady of the Buck Inn at Thornton Watlass near Bedale for the past six years was over the moon at the announcement but she says going to the pub will not be the same.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted at the decision to let us open from July 4. I want to look at the guidelines, but I can’t wait to reopen. We have been operating takeaways and the support from the community has been wonderful but it will be fabulous to be able to reopen the doors again. There is a lot to work to do on how staff want to come back and how we will run it but none of it is insurmountable.

“Coming to the pub will be different for people, they will be greeted at the door and shown to a table, people won’t be able to order at the bar but at least they can come in and socialise. The lockdown has been very difficult, and it would have been easier if I had just closed the doors and taken the grant but we are the heart of the village and we wanted to keep something going. Now we want to look forward.”

Black Sheep brewery at Masham said they are looking forward to reopening their visitor centre and restaurant on July 4 and stands ready to support pub re-openings with fresh supply of beer.

After restarting brewing this month with the first 100 barrels of Black Sheep Best Bitter, the Masham-based brewery is adding a wider selection of beers, in various formats, to create a dedicated re-opening range.

Charlene Lyons, Chief Executive of Black Sheep Brewery, said: “We have been poised to increase our production ready for pubs to reopen and now we have the green light, our team will be pulling out all the stops to ensure our pub customers have the freshest supplies of Black Sheep behind the bar ready for 4th July.

“All of our deliveries will be made in line with hygiene and social distancing guidelines and we will be encouraging all the pubs we work with to ensure they have a safe environment for staff and customers to enjoy this new chapter in the story of our industry.

“We will be prioritising customers in our heartland in this immediate period and then expanding our deliveries throughout the country in the coming weeks.

“There’s no doubt that this is a monumental day for us. Delivering to pubs once again will allow us to resume our close bonds with our flock of publicans with whom we have long-standing and successful relationships. We’ve missed them, but we are back together now and making sure they can serve much-desired pints of hand-pulled Black Sheep that their customers have been looking forward to throughout lockdown.”

Sarah Mayhew Craddock, Curator of Kiplin Hall and Gardens in Richmond, said: “There’s actually never been a better time to visit Kiplin Hall as the Hall was redisplayed at the beginning of the season, just before we closed the doors to lockdown.

“Since then the team at Kiplin have been working hard behind the scenes, remotely and at the Hall, preparing a new visitor route around Kiplin Hall that allows for strict social distancing whilst enjoying every element of the museum. We’re even opening up a part of the museum that is ordinarily closed to visitors, which will offer a new perspective and insight to Kiplin’s history that I’m sure visitors will find fascinating.

“We’ve also introduced a new ticketing system, helping people’s money go further at this tricky time, new tickets are valid for 12 months and include the hall and garden!

“Kiplin’s 100 acres of gardens and grounds reopened a few weeks ago with increased cleaning provisions in place and have been very much enjoyed by returning and new visitors alike. Visitors have very much respected the ‘new normal’ creating a truly lovely, relaxing environment.”

Simon Theakston, executive director at T&R Theakston Brewing Company, said: “We warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today on pubs re-opening on the 4th July and the reduction in social distancing from two metres to one metre but await the publication of further government guidelines to ensure that pubs will be able to operate as near to normal as is possible.

“This announcement will protect the livelihoods and jobs for hundreds of thousands of people all over the country and will give members of the public a real sense that a return to normal life is on the way. Publicans all over the country will be looking forward to opening their doors and welcoming customers old and new. Our brewery fermenting vessels are full of Theakston’s finest cask ale in anticipation of happier days ahead!”

Zack Ahmed of Babul’s of Barnard Castle said: “We have been trying to pre-empt what the government will do and say, there have been no new guidelines other than the two-metre rule. They have just left us to our own devices to figure out how to adapt the restaurant to re-open and its like that across the country, I feel we have been left in the dark.

“We have tried to imagine the worst-case scenario and put these measures in place in order to keep staff and customers safe. The date does not give us much time its ten days away which give us ten to prepare with recruiting and getting stock but also doing a run through of the new measures.

“We now have a contact free ordering service, contact free toilets with a toilet attendant. We have a sanitising attendant who will sanitize every ten minutes.

“I feel the government has now transferred accountability from themselves to the restaurants if the Track and Trace comes back to a case at a restaurant that’s it more closure.

“The new measures mean we have had to halve our capacity, social distancing in a restaurant is a different ball game unlike outside we are in a confined space. We are sticking to the rules but don’t want that to put people off please come to us, we are still here.”

The Majestic Theatre which is volunteer run in Darlington said they were reopening their bar but nothing was yet certain about the theatre.

Hayley Thompson, events and entertainment director, said: “After Boris Johnson’s announcement, we’re hoping to open the bar in the theatre up in early July, but at the moment nothing is fully certain because we need to get advice on how exactly it needs to work to know whether it will be possible for us. It’s a no answers game right now.

“We’ve been faring well during lockdown because we’re volunteer run, and we’ve been lucky enough to receive grants from the government to keep us afloat.

“However, we are still being told we are not allowed to show live performances, which is our bread and butter and is how we generate most of our income. Even with the bar open, if the live performances can’t go ahead for a prolonged period we could find ourselves in trouble and we could be forced to close sadly if that is the case.

“Right now, we just don’t have the answers that we need to be certain about the future.

“Christmas is always a good time for us, and we’re hoping our annual Christmas pantomime will still go ahead which we are really looking forward too.”

However some businesses said they would not be opening on July 4.

Steve Green who runs The Three Horseshoes, in Barnard Castle, with wife Linda and sons Robbie and Ryan said the hotel pub will not reopen on July 4, regardless of Mr Johnson’s announcements.

The business, which includes 15 hotel rooms, a pub and restaurant and a four-bed holiday cottage, currently has 15 members of staff on furlough and the four family partners continue to work.

Mr Green said: “We decided, regardless of being told we could open on July 4, we would not do so until the beginning of August.

“For the business to be viable we need everything to come into place, otherwise there’s no profit.

“Let us open up the hotel rooms, it would be a lot easier to look after hotel rooms with extra cleaning than a bar and beer garden.

“With these suggestions of one-in-one-out at the toilets, people phoning up or ordering by email and waiter service in the bar and beer garden, we’d need more staff telling people what to do than selling beer.

“We need all the campsites open and full, they’re the heart of Barnard Castle, and all parts of the business up and running otherwise it will cost us too much to have staff back off furlough.

“We’re going to wait a month and see how things are going then make a decision.”