No, I didn’t order a Corona…
For a few weeks now I’ve been scrolling social media and getting super stressed out seeing people return to pubs and bars like coronavirus is over. Regardless of the government guidelines, people are getting back on it in ways that I can’t even fathom yet.
Throughout lockdown, I’ve lived with people who’ve been classed as a higher risk. Naturally, I’ve been hella careful and socially distanced probably more than was technically required.
Although I know how much the sector needs the revenue boost, the announcement that hospitality venues were reopening filled me with dread instead of excitement. I started planning to stay in even more rather than get ready to go out-out.
But don’t get it twisted, this is more of a testament to my anxiety about the virus than my dislike of pubs.
I love the pub. It’s a place of togetherness, possibility and crispy peanuts. It doesn’t matter if you’re all dressed up on a night out or grimy after a long hike, in all good pubs there’s a time and a place for everyone.
The problem is, people seem to be having a hard enough time staying two metres apart at the BEST and most sober of times. No one’s sense of spatial awareness or social expectations gets better with booze. Myself included! So for a long time, it has just been better to stay home and take responsibility for my own safety instead of going out and hoping other people will (then getting really mad/anxious when they don’t).
A few weeks ago I moved to Scotland, where thanks to stricter and longer lockdown restrictions, there are far fewer cases than in England where I was living before.
So this weekend when my Dad and I were finishing up a walk and passed the Ardencaple Hotel in Rhu, Helensburgh, we decided to be very ‘brave’ and go for a pint. (How weird would that sentence be at any other time?). We were cautious and in agreement that if it didn’t feel safe, we would just leave.
But it honestly couldn’t have felt safer. We followed a one-way system through the back of the pub where we queued along distanced spots on the floor. As there was only one group ahead of us we were soon met by a friendly member of staff wearing a plastic visor and gloves. She directed us to scan a QR code with a phone camera and reply to a subsequent government text with our surname and the number of people in our party. Nicola’s Test and Protect scheme, working like a charm.
Then we took a disposable paper menu and followed our host through the pub’s one-way system to the well-spaced pub garden overlooking Rhu marina and out to Rosneath and Port Glasgow.
After a quick hand sanitise, we used the handy app to order two pints of Peroni and a portion of chips, which were delivered quickly by another visored member of staff.
Then it was time for the first-sip bliss. Fresh sea breeze, afternoon sunshine, the hum of a pub garden and the taste of ice-cold lager. What more could you possibly want in life?
Massive shout out to the Ardencaple Hotel for implementing such rigorous safety measures and making it possible to go out and have a pint without having an anxiety attack at the same time. 🍻