PUBS are preparing to reopen on Saturday after being closed for more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Easing of social distancing rules has made it possible for many pubs and restaurants to welcome customers for the first time since March 20.

The new one-metre social distancing rule allows people to be closer together in areas where staying two metres apart isn’t possible, as long as they take sensible steps to decrease the risk of transmission.

Oliver Beardsley, owner of the Old Fleece in North Woodchester, has spent lockdown refurbishing the pub and is extremely happy to be reopening on July 4.

“The Fleece is part of the community here and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to opening as safely as possible of course.

“It’s like a family here so it will be good to see everyone.”

Some tables - inside and out - have been removed to allow for social distancing, and extra handwashing stations will be available for staff and customers.

Mr Beardsley is happy to accommodate people who might be tentative about returning to the pub.

“We could put people in a private room or give them a space out of the way, there are different options available,” he said.

“And if you’re not comfortable coming at 7.30pm like everyone else, then you could come at 6pm and we could give you a table out of the way.”

Harry Counsell, owner of the Bowbridge Arms and the Clothiers Arms in Stroud, said that although the last three months have been difficult, he is now ready for business again and is excited to be reopening.

“We are excited about getting back to seeing and serving our lovely customers,” he said.

“We’ve done all we can with training and risk assessments and hopefully people will be sensible.

“At both pubs we have got sanitising stations, one way toilets and a one way system through the building.

“We are doing table service - there will be no bar service.

“There will, however, still be screens at the bar to protect staff and customers and we also have air purifies at the Clothiers, which will sanitise the air during closed periods.

“We’re also taking food bookings for the restaurant at the Clothiers while the bar tables are on a first come first serve.”

Mr Counsell said although he understands some customers will be apprehensive, his staff have done all they can to create a safe environment.

“If people abide by the systems, then it should be no different from going to the supermarket or the shop,” he said.

“We are very confident we will be providing a safe and welcoming enjoyable visit to our customers, if everybody does their bit then there should be no issues.”

The Crown and Sceptre in Horns Road will be opening its beer garden only on Saturday with table service.

There will be a strict one-way system in place and all customers will enter via the front door, one at a time.

The garden will be open from 1pm to 9pm at weekends and 3pm to 9pm during the week, and staff are now taking bookings

Owner Rodda Thomas turned the Crown into a shop during lockdown, selling items such as eggs, bread, as well as beer.

“We haven’t closed once since 2009, we have been open every day,” he said.

“It’s going to be nice to see everyone again, I miss talking to people, our locals are a good bunch and it will be nice to see them all back again.”

The inside will open in the future but for now only the garden will be available.

Stroud Brewery is also be reopening on Saturday.

Bar manager George Withington said: “As a business we went from having a large proportion of our business stopped, which was the bar, but we were in the very fortunate position that the people of Stroud still wanted to drink our beer during lockdown.

“So all of our business pretty much went on to our website, we started doing deliveries around the area and so we just adapted like that really.”

Mr Withington said social distancing rules will be in place.

He added: “We’re very fortunate that we have a very large building and a lot of space, so we’ve spaced our tables two metres apart.

“And we are going to be running a table service only, with dedicated servers for tables and we will have a whole team just dedicated to making drinks.

“We also have lots of hand sanitising points all around the building, and we are really advising customers to book tables, that helps with the people coming through our doors.

“All our staff, who have been split into separate teams to minimise risk of cross transmission to customers, will also have their temperature checked.”

Hairdressers can also reopen this weekend.

Like all salons, Summerbee’s Hair in Russell Street, Stroud, has strict safety measures in place.

Appointments must be pre-booked and hand sanitiser must be used on entering and leaving.

All staff members will be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment and protective screens will also be fitted.

Equipment and stations will also be sterilised prior to use with an approved cleanser.