Hitchin pub landlord talks lockdown, ‘new normal’ and reopening excitement
- Credit: Archant
The owner of a Hitchin pub has discussed lockdown, society’s ‘new normal’ and his excitement at reopening, as he prepares to greet customers again for the first time in months on Saturday.
With the easing of lockdown and many pubs, restaurants and more expecting to open for the first time in months on ‘Super Saturday’, we spoke with the landlord of a local Hitchin pub.
John-Paul Matthews, better known as JP, has run The Rose and Crown pub in Hitchin’s Market Place for almost a year now.
He described the 14-week lockdown as a “bizarre time”, where he could finally do the odd-jobs around the pub and at home – but did admit he missed seeing the pub’s regular faces.
JP said: “We had the TVs on when Boris made the initial lockdown announcement. That was a surreal experience, we’re all listening to the TV and waiting for updates.
You may also want to watch:
“Everyone then decided to have their last hurrah before we closed, although we did shut early that night to ensure no-one would overindulge.
“For myself and my team, we’ve been trying to keep in touch with our customer base during lockdown. One regular actually doesn’t have any family, so we became his ‘bubble’ and that really hits home the community feel that we try to provide.”
- 1 June 21: Will lifting of coronavirus restrictions be delayed until July?
- 2 Pair jailed for causing horror crash that injured 19
- 3 Colossal bath makes a splash in Hitchin
- 4 Detective hopes sentence 'sends clear message' after car cruise crash drivers jailed
- 5 Application submitted for electric vehicle charging forecourt off A1(M)
- 6 Motorhome and car involved in A505 crash
- 7 Family plea to save eight-month-old pup Ellie
- 8 Have your say on parking restriction plans
- 9 Do you recognise these people?
- 10 Drugs, weapons and cash recovered as man arrested in Beds village
JP says he feels relieved to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, as the time of enforced pub closures is coming to an end.
The Rose & Crown will initially reopen with reduced hours and limited seating inside, with the 2m social distancing rules enforced, hand sanitizer stations and regular cleaning going on throughout the day.
JP says he has also been in regular contact with Public Health England and North Herts District Council’s Environmental Health team, to ensure reopening goes ahead as smooth as possible.
“We want to try to reduce risky contact time between ourselves and our guests and keep everyone safe.
“I think we’re gone above and beyond – different mops, and cloths, sanitizing stations and more. We want people to feel as safe as possible.
“Although we’re not quite back to normality, the idea that we can see those familiar faces again does excite me and I’m really looking forward to that on Saturday.