Emotions will be running high at pubs today as landlords and landladies will be welcoming customers ­— some they will be seeing again for the first time in more than a year.

Pubs and restaurants are able to open outside areas today as lockdown restrictions have eased across the country.

In Lancashire, wet led pubs have been closed since October 17 last year while pubs serving food and restaurants have not had people through the door since November 5.

The Lord Nelson in Blackburn has been under the management of Angela and Darren Wilkinson for the past four years.

The couple, that took over what was their local for five years before, said they are getting emotional knowing that they will be able to see their locals again.

Landlady Angela said: “It’s like the hub of the community, some of the old people, some of the regulars we haven’t seen since last March because they have been self isolating.

“It’s those who we can’t wait to see again really. We are like a big family up here, we have got our regulars that come in every day, some of them coming in here is the only time they go out.”

Both Blackburn born and raised, the couple have been checking on the regulars who have been shielding and hope that the weather will be good enough for them to come back for their first pint since last March.

They have invested in a gazebo which includes heat lamps as part of their beer garden which can seat 120 people socially distanced.

Also in Blackburn, the Havelock Inn has built a full gazebo which will seat 100 people on top of the huge beer garden that will be able to seat 150.

Landlord Darren Heggie is grateful for the huge outdoor area he has at the pub which has allowed him to re-open and let a huge number of customers back for a pint.

Darren said: “It will just be so good to welcome the regulars back and have it feel a bit more normal again.

“Essentially, we have built another pub overnight. It’s actually bigger than the pub now and it has got everything you would find inside - outside.”

Due to the size of the outdoor space, Darren and owner Christopher Dilworth have been able to get 12 staff members, including security, back on the books.

Darren has been working for the Havelock Inn for about 14 years and said the past year has been unbelievably hard for the industry.

He added: “Just when you think it couldn’t get any tougher then this happens.

“I just don’t have any words, I can’t believe what has happened.

“We did have plans for this [outdoor gazebo] a while ago but this has got us to a point to do it.”

In todays lifting, when in an outdoor restaurant or pub, customers must order, eat and drink while seated at a table.

Restrictions have changed since pubs were last open meaning people won’t need to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks - and there’ll be no 10pm curfew.

Customers must also follow either the rule of six, or be in a group of any size as long as there are no more than two households present.

When people are not seated, including people being shown to a table or going to the toilet - customers must wear face masks, follow one-way systems and observe social distancing.

Craig Rustidge has ran the Entwistle Hotel on Entwistle Street in Darwen for 14 years and he said the last six months have been the longest of their life.

He said: “I am really excited to be getting back. It has been the longest six months of my life.

“It has been hard. We are a community pub so you get to know the people. They are like friends of mine.”

Whilst he has been closed, Craig has given the beer garden a facelift with new furniture, a repainting and new lighting.

The beer garden will fit around 30 to 36 people and Craig has said that there will be no booking system and instead tables will be available on a first come first serve basis.

In Burnley, The Royal Dyche has also bought a marquee so they can combat more weather conditions while they are only able to serve outdoors.

Landlady Justine Lorriman said it is going to be lovely to be back but thinks it will be a bit emotional seeing everyone again.

She said: “We are all really excited, I don’t know what we are going to be like for numbers but all my staff said they don’t mind what hours they get they just want to get back to work.

“We are excited to see all our regulars again, I think it’s going to be a bit overwhelming for the first few weeks because there aren’t many pubs opening in the area.”

The outdoor area will - abiding by social distancing and the rule of six - seat 36 in the marquee and 60 in the beer garden.

Justine added: “I did have in place, if they went back into a tier system, that we were going to serve scotch eggs and pies as a substantial meal so we could get back trading.

“There’s only so long you can last on these grants. I had planned [to re-open] for May, I didn’t think we would be open until then so for me it’s a bonus we are able to get open now.”