HUNDREDS of businesses will reopen on Saturday as the town’s hospitality industry begins to rebuild following the damage caused by coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a massive boost to the sector after announcing pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants can reopen on July 4 in a major relaxation of the lockdown.

Italian restaurant San Lorenzo, which is located in the Treasury building, on Palmyra Square South, has announced it will reopen at noon on July 9.

The restaurant’s rooftop Terrace Gin and Cigar bar will open from noon this Saturday, the Treasury Private Dining Room will open for private reservations on July 6, Las Ramblas Wine and Tapas will wait until 5pm on July 23 and The Grill on the Square will welcome back diners from noon on July 30.

The town centre businesses – which are all part of the CharlieAdam Group – will be staggering their reopening dates to allow them to operate in full compliance with the Government’s regulations and guidance.

Despite an easing of the social distancing guidelines, group director Adam Smith says the restaurants are aiming to keep it at two metres.

Mr Smith says things need to be taken slowly to ensure they are carried out in the right manner.

He said: “I think the Government have looked after us, our sector particularly, I think they’ve done well for us.

Warrington Guardian:

San Lorenzo restaurant reopens on July 9

“Obviously, there has been uncertainty but whenever that has got very high we’ve had an answer as to what will happen.

“Obviously, the best outcome now is we can start to build to get things back to some sort of normality.

“As it stands now, we are staggering our openings to prioritise the best way we can look after our guests.

“I think staff training is going to be a huge thing and we are already on top of that.

“It is almost like when we first opened the restaurant, the importance of it is that high.

“I don’t think we should try to make it as busy as it was before – I think we have got to be careful to make sure we don’t fill too many areas. We have got space in between tables.”

Mr Smith also said he believes the council’s Time Square regeneration scheme will deliver a boost to business in the long term.

“I think it’s really exciting what is happening in Warrington at the moment with the regeneration of the town centre,” he said.

“It’s only going to attract more people into the area and it’s attracting more people to live in the town centre, which is a great thing.”

Warrington Guardian:

Part of Time Square in the town centre

New guidance for the hospitality sector means businesses will be able to reopen in England on Saturday provided they meet Government criteria for keeping staff and customers as safe as possible.

It sets out a range of measures for sites to become Covid-19 secure including encouraging customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue and providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene.

Warrington South MP Andy Carter is calling on residents to support the town’s tourism and hospitality industries as they reopen for business.

The Conservative politician urged people help businesses ‘bounce back’ following an extremely challenging period.

Mr Carter said: “People across Warrington have made huge efforts to help get this dreadful virus under control, we’ve made great progress and created the space to allow people to start to make the most of the brilliant hospitality venues that Warrington has to offer.

Warrington Guardian:

MP Andy Carter with bar staff

“I hope people get out to support businesses, which are reopening and which are so vital to our economy and jobs.

“I’ve asked Warrington Council to look at what steps they can take to encourage café pavement culture wherever we can, so that we can make the most of summer outdoor eating.”

Warrington Business Improvement District (BID) and the council are working with hospitality businesses across the town to support them in reopening safely.

A dedicated team has been set up to support businesses and look at how public space can be used fairly and safely.

More than 400 local hospitality businesses have been asked to complete a questionnaire to help the council make informed decisions about space allocation and the support required.

The council is also working with premises to fast-track the introduction of pavement café areas where possible.

Steve Park, the council’s director of growth, said: “Our restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and leisure attractions play such an important role in the life of our town centre, and after what has been a hugely challenging period, it’s great news that they will soon be able to welcome customers once more.

Warrington Guardian:

Steve Park

“Of course, the safe reopening of these premises brings real challenges – and that’s why the council, the BID and the police are working closely with businesses to offer a range of support and to ensure all the necessary measures are put in place to keep customers and staff safe.

“The public can help us by acting responsibly and if they are going out, ensuring that they abide by the rules and guidelines in place.”

But the reopening of pubs, restaurants and cafes is ‘arguably a step too far’, says the leader of Warrington and Halton Green Party.

Lyndsay McAteer said the Government has an overriding duty to protect public health.

The politician also claims the massive casualty rate is directly due to the Government’s failure to act sooner in terms of the lockdown and overall preparedness for the pandemic.

“Opening up pubs, restaurants, and cafes, is arguably a step too far at this point in time,” she said.

“Having said this, the economic, social, and health effects of staying in lockdown cannot be underestimated.

“Until we have a workable vaccine, the danger remains ever present.

Warrington Guardian:

Lyndsay McAteer

“This is why an efficient tracing and tracking system is required to stop another increase in the infection rate.

“The Government need to provide our borough council with the necessary resources to develop a track and trace system. As the town is opening up again, this needs to be a priority.”

Meanwhile, safety measures will be introduced to avoid overcrowding when an Indian restaurant reopens this weekend.

Bombay 8 in Westbrook, off Charon Way, closed for around four weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown on March 23.

But it later started providing a takeaway service, with residents able to collect their orders from the site.

However, it is now ready to welcome customers back into the restaurant on Saturday.

The site, including the carpet, has been cleaned while it is stocking up on hand sanitisers, gloves and masks.

Manager Mofozul Miah set out some of the measures in place to improve safety for diners.

He said: “Normally, I do around 90 covers in the restaurant but I am going to minimise it to about 60 to 70 to try to keep a distance of over one metre in place.

“Booking wise, what we are doing on the weekend as we are getting a huge demand from customers is setting a time, so we are giving people about 1 hour 45 minutes to two hours.

“Weekdays should be ok – it is just Fridays and Saturdays that everybody wants to be out, so whoever books in can sit in.”

Despite taking a significant financial hit during the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Miah thanked customers for their support during the challenging period.

Warrington Guardian:

Mofozul Miah

He said: “I have to be grateful to my customers for supporting me during this very hard pandemic.

“It is great that customers have continued coming for take-outs. A big thank you to all my customers.”

Asked about how concerned he is over the prospect of a local lockdown in the future, Mr Miah added: “We are a small business compared to the branded names.

“I don’t just worry about myself, I worry about everybody.”

Furthermore, a sustainable vegan shop in the town centre has offered a ‘place of sanctuary’ to customers aiming to avoid the supermarket chaos during the coronavirus crisis.

Powered by Plants Vegan Foods – which is located under the railway arches on Crown Street – is a plant-based, zero waste store.

The shop has remained open during the lockdown but the food element of its deli was forced to close, although part of it is set to reopen on Saturday.

The business is co-owned by Carl Hammond and Rebecca Entwistle.

Warrington Guardian:

Carl Hammond and Rebecca Entwistle

Carl said: “In the initial panic we were busier and then we’ve probably seen steady trading.

“We are 16-17 months into our business model so we don’t know whether that was going to happen or if it was forced by coronavirus.

“I don’t think we will fully open our deli. I just think people are still in this systemic fear.

“So if you’ve got what we had before with your typical glass cake cabinet, nicely displayed cakes that you can slice, put a glove on and hand it to somebody, that is almost like a fear factor for everybody.”

Despite the shop remaining open, it has still been a tough time for the business.

Carl added: “We are supplying free from genetic modification food – all plant-based, all ethically sourced – and that is the lion share of our business.

“The deli did pick up a good quarter of our business and that was shut down. That’s money you can’t get back.

“We have got an absolute amazing core of regular shoppers that have supported us from day one when we first opened and still stick with us.

“It’s a little place of sanctuary, you come into our place and it’s just not the chaos you get in a supermarket.”