Leeds bars praise public behaviour amid calls to open indoor hospitality earlier than May 17
It's been two weeks since Leeds bars and pubs reopened their outdoor areas.
As people flock back to their favourite haunts to enjoy a cold pint or cocktail, bar managers have praised their customers for respecting the social distancing guidelines in place.
The managing director of MOJO bars, which has a site in Merrion Street, said the last two weeks have gone "remarkably well" as he calls for indoor hospitality to reopen sooner than May 17 to keep businesses afloat.
Martin Greenhow told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "In regard to how the public are behaving themselves, we're seeing a really respectful way of going about things.
"They are abiding by the rules and guidelines in place and there's been a great atmosphere, people are delighted to be back out and they're making the most of it.
"We've been blessed with dry weather which has helped."
Martin said businesses across the city were quieter last week than when restrictions were first lifted, which he expected.
But even at full outdoor capacity, he said it has been a struggle for the hospitality sector to make ends meet after months of little income.
"It's not a sustainable situation for anybody," Martin added.
"We’re operating at 20 per cent of our indoor capacity and we’ve still got the issue of how to pay the rent and bills. We’re not able to take enough money, even with the most enthusiastic of customers.
"We really need this road map to be adhered too at the very least, or brought forward. We need to get back to normal, even if that’s a socially-distant normal to start with."
Ellen Richards, marketing manager at Headrow House and Belgrave Music Hall, said both bars had been extremely busy since they reopened.
She echoed Martin's praises for the way customers have behaved and said the vast majority were happy to follow social distancing guidelines.
"The atmosphere has been great," Ellen said.
"It’s been a really crazy couple of weeks for the staff, because of the sheer number of people through, but we’ve had a really positive start and we hope it continues."
Belgrave is open for walk-ins rather than operating a booking system and Ellen said customers are happy to wait for a seat.
She added: "It worked out better for the team to operate a safe system of walk-ins, rather than turning people away. People are willing to queue and wait and we’ve got the system nailed down.
"At Headrow House, we're taking bookings and walk-ins and we've launched booth packages, which have been hugely popular.
"There’s been hardly any cancellations, people are really eager to get out."
MOJO has also seen few cancellations, Martin said, and customers were supportive of the deposit required to make bookings.
"We've had one or two question it, but most people understand and are happy," Martin added.
"With the best will in the world, we’re not in a position to have voids - we’ve got such little opportunity to take money that we just can’t afford no shows."
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