"It means the world", said Sheffielders as pubs and shops finally reopened after months of lockdown
It was “a bit like when of your best mates has gone away and then they come back,” said one drinker in Nether Edge as they tucked into their first pub pint in months on Monday.
Beer gardens, non-essential shops, gyms and salons all opened on April 12 as lockdown finally started to ease and there was an ‘air of optimism’ in one Sheffield community, despite the chilly temperatures.
“It wasn’t Sheffield without the shops,” one Sharrow Vale shopper said – and there was certainly hope that this will be the last time our local businesses have to shut their doors due to Covid-19.
Matt Brown, a third year economics student at The University of Sheffield, headed down to The Stag’s Head on Psalter Lane early with his three housemates.
The pub opened at an earlier 11am, and the weather meant the beer garden – complete with pop-up marquee – was bustling from the off.
Matt said: “It is a bit like when of your best mates has gone away and then they come back and it is great to socialise with them again and have a nice drink.
"It is good, on a serious note, for mental health as well. We are all students so it is good to be back outside and in the pub together, it’s a great atmosphere.
"We stayed in Sheffield the whole time in our pocket-size garden and small house so it is great to be back outside again. A lot of the pubs were booked quite quickly so we thought we would come here early get a seat and camp out for the day.”
Some hospitality businesses in Sheffield have a ‘bookings only’ policy, with many restaurants and beer gardens booked up until the end of the month.
However, The Stag’s Head wanted to make room for the ‘casual drinker’ – and many were taking the opportunity to enjoy the weather with a frothy pint.
Kurt Woods, manager, said: "We have not been taking bookings for this because we like to keep a causal drinker happy, as well as the groups, so for us to open at 11 as a first trial run has been pretty good.
"We have been pretty desperate. Nothing beats being at work seeing smiley faces having good beer, its great.”
Callum East, 23, who lives in Sharrow, was enjoying a pint at The Lescar pub nearby on Sharrowvale Road.
He said: “It is the sense of community and everybody being together again – we are not isolating.
"It is the best bit of the pubs, the social element. It’s great to be sat in the sun with 30 other people sharing experiences once again.”
Donna Powell, owner of Trapeze Kids opposite The Lescar, has also opened her doors for the first time in months, selling children’s clothes.
She said: “It has been a rollercoaster and it feels like it is time. It hit people, not just businesses but emotionally, this time. What I have tried to do is keep the local community engaged with the website so people could order online and pick up from the store, as well as deliveries, so that kept people engaged and reminded them that we were here.
“There are regular customers that have been by, saying hello, checking in, so it feels exciting to be back open again; the weather is good, the sun is out, so it is a nice day. I feel quite optimistic.
"Around here has been quite busy throughout so it has always felt quite positive and fairly uplifting, so hopefully that will continue.”
There were queues at salons and hairdressers, and some punters were making the most of a new outdoor seating area at the popular Pom Kitchen cafe.
Anna Worden from the Rhyme and Reason bookshop at Hunters Bar said that bookshops being open is equally important as hospitality, and shoppers agree.
"It wasn’t Sheffield without the shops, I have had to order online and that just hasn’t been as enjoyable,” said Sharrow Vale shopper Carol.
"I would rather go in to a shop and speak with the staff, it’s much more of an experience.”
Anna added: “It is lovely. It is been great that we have managed to stay open at all throughout but it is lovely having customers back in, with the fact to face conversation.
"They are happy to be here. Someone said all their mates have been ecstatic about the pubs being open but they were like, ‘nope, I want to go to the bookshop’. That’s nice to hear.”
Micropub The Beer House on Ecclesall Road reopened with a brand new outdoor seating area
One regular, called Paul, said: “I think it has been a tough time for everybody and I know we have all been looking forward to being back and having a few beers, it means the world. We have really missed it.”
The Beer House owner John Harrison said: “It has been great, we are fully booked throughout so everyone is really pleased to be back seeing the people they have not seen for 12 months.
“It was tough, and not just the financial side, but what the communities missed as well – the interaction that local pubs give, so it has been great to see people back together, talking and reconnecting.
“It is really important for what the pub gives to the community. A lot of people have been isolating for a long time so it is great for them to get back together and hear laughter. We have not got much to catch up on because not much has happened, but it is just great to be back.”