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Punters’ thirst for pub-poured pint comes to an end as restrictions are eased

Hundreds of people flocked to their local pub gardens to have a celebratory pint to mark the restrictions easing in Northern Ireland.

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Members of the public enjoy a drink at a bar in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

Members of the public enjoy a drink at a bar in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

Members of the public enjoy a drink at a bar in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

For the first time in four months, beer gardens reopened to the public across Northern Ireland.

As rules were eased, punters’ thirst for a pub-poured pint finally came to an end.

Hundreds of people flocked to their local pub gardens to have a celebratory pint to mark the restrictions easing.

Many pub owners were relieved to see the rain stay away, allowing customers to enjoy the company of friends and old familiar faces again.

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Members of the public queue to enter a bar in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

Members of the public queue to enter a bar in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

PA

Members of the public queue to enter a bar in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

Belfast’s Ulster Sports Club appeared to be the first to open its doors when it poured its first pint of Guinness at midnight.

A group of a dozen punters braved the chilly weather until 1am.

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In Omagh Co Tyrone, Denise Owens, proprietor of Annie’s Bar, welcomed her regulars back.

Despite pleas in phone calls and Facebook messages, Denise allowed only the bar’s usual customers back to the beer garden, which hold 42 people.

“We wanted to look after our regulars first and stick to them,” she said.

“It’s been really nice to get back, we’ve put a lot of work into it and I’ve done it the right way.

“The weather has been good which has helped too. The day staff have enjoyed it too.

“The customers have been in really good form and they are all happy and glad to see each other again.

“Some of them haven’t seen each other since October, so they were all happy to get a drink together again.

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A man drinks his pint in a beer garden (Mark Marlow/PA)

A man drinks his pint in a beer garden (Mark Marlow/PA)

PA

A man drinks his pint in a beer garden (Mark Marlow/PA)

“Planning for the reopening has been very difficult – no canapes or roof cover, so we are depending on the good weather.

“We are now just waiting for the rest of the regulations to be lifted but so far so good.”

Matthew Bird, owner of Sally McNally’s in Portadown, Co Armagh, said it was a busy day.

“We have had to turn a lot of people away throughout the day,” he said.

“We are operating on a first come, first served basis so there’s been quite a few people having to wait outside until a table is free.

“Most people coming in have been locals, and everyone is in a good, cheery mood.

“We hold 40 people in the beer garden. It was very difficult sticking to the regulations. We had to work with the council plans and make sure it was right to be able to open.”

Julie Hastings, marketing director of Hastings Hotels, said they reopened the Cultra Inn on the grounds of the Culloden hotel and the Percy French on the grounds of the Slieve Donard.

She said: “We’ve had a fantastic first day of trading in both establishments and our staff are thrilled to be back doing what they do best, providing first-class hospitality, and seeing people being able to enjoy themselves in this first step to getting the hospitality and tourism industry back open.”


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