5 things we learnt after pubs and restaurants reopened in Ipswich

People flocked to Isaacs to make the most of the first weekend of restrictions easing. Picture: Sara

People flocked to bars in Ipswich such as Isaacs to make the most of the first weekend of restrictions easing. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The first weekend of eased restrictions saw hundreds of punters heading into Ipswich and other towns for their first pint or meal out — so what did we learn from the experience?

Pubs, restaurants, and hotels have been eagerly waiting to reopen their doors after months of closure, and have been busy preparing their outside spaces for the return of customers. 

Crowds enjoyed the sunshine at Cult on the first weekend of restrictions easing. Picture: Sarah Luc

Crowds enjoyed the sunshine at Cult bar in Ipswich on the first weekend of restrictions easing. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

So, what tips did we learn from the first weekend of lockdown lifting?

1. Pre-book to avoid disappointment

Gone are the days when you could turn up at a pub or restaurant for a quick pint and secure a table with ease. 

In a post-Covid world most bars, pubs and restaurants are asking customers to pre-book a table for dinner or drinks outside, following the easing of restrictions on April 12. 

Popular Ipswich spots, such as Aurora, The Forge and Steamboat Tavern, have all been asking customers to pre-book in advance as there is limited space in their beer gardens. 

You can book a table by visiting the pub's website or social media channels, or by calling them directly. 

Police patrolled the waterfront on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Police patrolled the waterfront on Saturday afternoon. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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2. Be prepared to queue 

If you are heading to the town last minute, or forgot to book a table, you must be prepared to line up outside — in a socially distanced queue — and patiently wait your turn. 

Queues formed outside many of the popular al fresco drinking spots on Saturday, such as Revolution, Aurora and Isaacs along the waterfront, with police issuing dispersal orders to a number of punters drinking at the quayside after failing to get into any of the town's hotspots. 

Lines of people snaked around the streets as beer gardens filled up in Ipswich on the first Saturday of eased restrictions. 

And as there is no longer a curfew in place, many people appear to be pitching up at a table and staying there all day and into the night. So it's one out, one in!

3. Wrap up warm — and bring layers

It might be April, but the British weather has never been a given. And even though the sun was shining on Saturday temperatures soon dropped for anyone staying out late. 

Some places, such as The Forge, are handing out blankets to guests and have decked their roof terrace with heaters.

But its best to wrap up warm if you want to make it out late. 

Luckily, the sun is set to shine in Suffolk for the remainder of the week, with temperatures dropping to 2C in the evenings. 

4. Download the NHS test and trace app in advance

By law, hospitality businesses must display an official NHS QR code poster, and they must collect contact details for the test and trace programme. 

Every person on the table must sign into the app, or provide the business with their contact details, and pubs and restaurants have been cracking down on this since April 12. 

If a customer or visitor chooses to check in by scanning the NHS QR code, they do not also need to complete the company's customer log.

It's a good idea to download the app in advance to ensure a smooth arrival. 

5. Bring a spare mask and hand sanitiser

Despite the hospitality industry being very prepped for the return of visitors, there is no harm in bringing a spare mask or putting some hand gel in your bag. 

You may misplace your mask and then you won't be allowed inside the premises to go to the toilet. So it's always good to have a back up!

All bars and restaurants have sanitiser stations dotted around, but if you are getting in a taxi or using public transport then a bottle of sanitiser will definitely come in handy.

For more information about what you can and can't do at Suffolk's pubs at this stage of the Government's roadmap, see here.