IN another step towards normality, beer gardens across the North-East will be allowed to reopen next month - but they will have to follow a strict set of rules.

From April 12, restaurants, cafes and pubs across England are expected to be allowed to serve food and drink outdoors for the first time in months. 

As part of the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, which are being done in four stages, hospitality venues will reopen on the same day as non-essential retail.

SEE MORE: What 'Stay Local' will mean over Easter in the North-East

But guidance for outdoor venues including beer gardens has been published by the Government and it shows what rules they will need to follow.

Table service returns

From April 12, outdoor food and drink venues will require all customers to be seated at a table when consuming their order.

The rules state that all venues must offer table service, but does not suggest customers will be banned from placing their order at an outdoor till point, or at the bar, for example.

You'll be able to have just alcohol

Gone are the days where you will need to order a 'substantial meal' with alcoholic drinks as those rules will no longer apply.

Previously pubs were limited to serving customers alcoholic drink when they placed an order for a meal, a problem which blighted wet pubs. 

There will be no curfew

Guidance says that for outdoor food and drink venues, there will not be a curfew imposed on when they must open and close.

Previously pubs and restaurants had to close their doors, inside and out, by 10pm across England due to Covid restrictions.

Social distancing and mixing rules will still apply

Although this sounds obvious, social distancing and rules on household mixing will continue to apply from April 12.

By that point the first phase of step 1 (coming in on March 29) will have been completed, provided there is no change to the Prime Minister's roadmap.

It means that only two different households, or up to six people (the rule-of-six), will be allowed to meet outdoors and in outdoor food and drink venues.

Those who flout the rules still run the risk of being fined by the police force in that local area. 

How likely is this all to happen?

When the PM Boris Johnson announced the roadmap out of the third national lockdown, he said that easing of rules would be done in stages.

He provided the dates in which rules would be relaxed at the earliest as he said it depended on the country meeting four tests.

Those are the Covid vaccine roll-out, the vaccine's effectiveness on reducing hospitalisations and deaths, infection rates and whether they are likely to surge which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, and emerging variants of the virus.

Currently, there has been no suggestion that the further easing of lockdown measures will not go ahead as planned.