This week we launched our Back in Business campaign to support firms get back on their feet. JOE HARRIGAN speaks to publicans and pubgoers on the news many were waiting for

BEFORE March, the traditional past-time of going to the pub was something we may have taken for granted.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced pubs, bars and restaurants can reopen from July 4, with social distancing reduced from two metres to one ­- huge news for publicans and communities.

Hospitality has been one of the trades most impacted by the pandemic, but now at last pub owners have light at the end of the tunnel.

Landlords will have tough decisions to make, including everything from whether to install screens to how to encourage elderly customers not to sit nursing a half pint all night when customer numbers will be so limited.

Other issues could include training staff for a new world of table service, one-way systems and spaced-out tables.

Carole Davis, landlady of the Clifton Arms in Blackburn, said: “Every day we’ve been waiting in anticipation. There’s a lot of planning to be done but we’re glad to have something to be working towards. It’s not just about the pubs reopening, it’s a about a way of life for the community and this is a great community to be working in. That’s the way this pub runs, we’re there for the community and for anyone who needs us.”

However, publicans are under no illusion about the challenges they face.

Lance Montgomery, landlord of the Anchor in Darwen, said: “We’re happy to be reopening and getting back to business but inevitably it’s a personal choice for everybody. Obviously there’s going to be challenges but it's a case of stiff upper lip and make the best of your business.”

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Miranda Barker was glad hear the news.

She said: “We’re really welcoming it but we’re cautious about how it's done because we want everything to be open and be financially viable but also we want to protect the health of the population and the long term health of business too. We really need to be self-policing and mutually supportive in order to make this work.”

This was echoed by the British Beer & Pub Association.

Chief Executive Emma McClarkin said: “This is an important step for us but it is just the first step on what will be a very a long road to recovery for our sector.”

To find out more about our campaign or to be featured, contact Joe Harrigan at