THE Old Wharf Inn is among pubs across Stourbridge preparing to re-open within days as coronavirus lockdown measures ease.

The waterside bar, which overlooks Stourbridge Canal, has confirmed it will re-open this Saturday (July 4) following the Government's announcement that pubs can start to open their doors again from that date as part of the lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown - as long as they comply with social distancing measures.

To help keep staff and customers safe a raft of new measures will be in place at the popular bar which opened in Amblecote High Street last summer.

Cotswold Journal: The Old Wharf Inn. Pic - Jack Spicer AdamsThe Old Wharf Inn. Pic - Jack Spicer Adams

All table bookings for food/drinks will be taken via email (info@oldwharfinn.co.uk) and customers are urged to wait for confirmation before making their trip to the pub to avoid disappointment.

Timed slots will be available to book for breakfast, lunch and in the evening.

The kitchen will be closed from 6pm but bar snacks will be available.

The pub's front doors will be closed and all customers must enter via the car park off Canal Street and upon entering they will be asked to queue and wait to be seated.

Once inside - customers will be asked to pay by card only and use contactless payments if possible. Staff will deliver orders to the table once customers have ordered - preferably from their table via an app.

There will be a one-in one-out system for the toilets and multiple hand sanitiser units around the pub which people will be advised to use using upon entering and exiting.

Plastic visors will be in place above each till at the bar for the safety of staff and customers and staff will be wearing PPE.

Jack Marks-Gardener, of The Old Wharf Inn, said: "I'm really excited to reopen The Old Wharf Inn after working so hard on this project and throughout lockdown our customers have been amazing with supporting the business.

"We can’t wait to welcome everyone and to get back to our usual self, doing what we do best."

The pub will be closed on Mondays for the time being.

The Plough and Harrow in Worcester Street, Stourbridge, has also announced plans to re-open this weekend - from midday on Sunday July 5.

Cotswold Journal: The Plough and Harrow in Worcester Street. Pic - Google Street ViewThe Plough and Harrow in Worcester Street. Pic - Google Street View

Changes to help ensure social distancing will be in place which will include limits on the number of people per table, table service inside and outside and changes to toilet capacity. The pub, part of the Craddock's Brewery empire, will publish further details on Thursday.

A host of other pubs across Stourbridge have also confirmed their re-opening dates. The Longlands Tavern in Western Road, Stourbridge, is re-opening on Saturday July 4, The Roe Deer at Wordsley will re-open on Sunday July 5, The Crabmill at Oldswinford is reopening on Monday July 6 and Bathams pubs - the Bird in Hand at Oldswinford and the Royal Exchange in Stourbridge - will re-open from Monday July 13.

Steve Pratt, spokesman for the Stourbridge and Halesowen branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said CAMRA "fully supports the re-opening of pubs where it is safe to do so".

He told the News: "Some of the larger pubs may be more successful where they can invest in all the health and social-distancing measures needed.

"Pubs with large open areas and beer gardens may also be better placed, providing they are managed properly.

"But some of the popular pubs opening first may also be over-subscribed, leading to long queues outside.

"The nature of the pub 'experience' may also be very different, especially if drinking at the bar is prevented and ordering is by mobile phone seated at a table.

"However - it will be difficult for smaller pubs to reopen safely, especially in view of their limited capacity and the need for social distancing.

"Much will depend on the ideas and actions of individual owners and landlords.

"Moreover, it will be difficult for pubs to be able to offer their full social and community benefits under the new restrictions, and some customers may not be confident enough to revisit pubs until they are sure it is safe.

"But let’s wait and see…I’m sure there will be plenty of people wanting to get back to visiting their local pubs and meeting their friends over a good beer in a socially safe way."

Dudley Council will be contacting all licensees highlighting new government legislation which sets out guidance on what they need to do ahead of opening. Publicans can find out more online at dudleybusinessfirst.org.uk/reopening-your-business/.

As well as having to complete risk assessments, licensees will have their existing alcohol licence extended to cover outdoor spaces on the premises, while pavement permits can be applied for as long as there is room for social distancing around tables and chairs.

Cotswold Journal: Cllr Karen Shakespeare - Dudley's cabinet member for licensing.Cllr Karen Shakespeare - Dudley's cabinet member for licensing.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley's cabinet member responsible for licensing, said: 

"We’re pleased to see the return of our pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants, however, while I’m sure we all want to get back to normal, we need to remember we are not there yet.

"When re-opening on Saturday we want to ensure those in the hospitality sector do so safely, so we are providing them with the government information and guidance to help them protect them, their staff and customers.

"We’ve all had to adapt and change the way we do things and for the time being it will be different when visiting your local pub, bar, café or restaurant.

"However, it’s vital everyone plays their part in preventing a second wave of COVID-19 and the real risk of a local lockdown by adhering to the premises’ guidelines."

Are you re-opening? Tell us about your plans by emailing bev.holder@stourbridgenews.co.uk