All smiles as pints indoors and hugs in homes allowed

Pints inside pubs and hugs inside homes were the order of the day as lockdown restrictions were eased once more.

Roy and Sarah Adderley with Juke the dog, at The Swan, Netherton
Roy and Sarah Adderley with Juke the dog, at The Swan, Netherton

Hospitality venues welcomed customers back inside for the first time since last year, while museums, theatres, cinemas and bingo halls were also given the green light to reopen yesterday.

And six people or two households can also meet indoors as part of the rule changes.

Across the Black Country and Staffordshire the doors were opened and staff ready to serve as pubs welcomed guests to sit indoors for the first time since November.

Those enjoying a lunchtime pint in the Old Swan in Netherton were able to sit comfortably and take in the unique layout of the pub, one of the last four home brew pubs in the country.

Roy Adderley was one of those enjoying a pint of Number One ale with his wife Sarah and their dog Juke.

The 61-year-old from Tividale said it was the first time he had been inside a pub since November 3 and said he was delighted to be there.

He said: “I’m really happy to be back in a pub and have missed this a lot as we’ve all felt so isolated and not able to enjoy life.

“I’ve never felt particularly unsafe during all this, but it’s nice to feel normal again and go out to enjoy myself.”

The reopening of the pub had brought back regulars, as well as people who were infrequent visitors.

Christopher Nott and John Guest at The Swan, Netherton

Friends Christopher Nott and John Guest from Dudley were enjoying a pint and a ham, cheese and onion cob after deciding to make the trip over.

Mr Nott said the Old Swan was one of the few pubs he would go into and said it was an invaluable place for people to socialise.

Raising a toast at Wolverhampton’s Billy Wright pub

The Billy Wright in Wolverhampton was enjoying a day of roaring trade, with manager Hayley McMullan saying the pub had been busy since it opened its doors.

One customer, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I’ve been sat at home for most of the year and I’ve barely gone out, so to be here today is great for me.

“I’ve been coming here for years and I have missed it, so the welcome today by all the bar staff was wonderful.”

Meanwhile there were smiles all round as the Black Country Living Museum welcomed back visitors after six months.

Andy Holmes, Amanda Worley, Liz Holmes and Tracey Cameron visited the Black Country Living Museum

A steady stream of customers lapped up the warm and vibrant atmosphere provided by the old buildings and engaging live actors.

Among them was Amanda Worley, aged 60, from Redditch, who attended with friends. She said: “I’m really excited to be here.

“It is a relief getting back to some form of normality and enjoying the fact we can go into shops, alongside meeting friends who I haven’t seen for six months.”

Gina Sibley, 51 from Stourbridge, said: “It is about time we have been able to go out. It has been a bad year.” In a bid to cater for social-distancing measures, the museum has brought its actors onto the streets where they interact with each other and visitors passing-by.

Tony and Gina Sibley at the Black Country Living Museum

On a typical busy day, in life before coronavirus, the museum could expect up to 2,500 visitors.

But now there is a cap on how many people can attend each day, with that limit set to 1,300.

The RAF Cosford Museum also reopened yesterday. One of the youngest enthusiasts to enjoy her visit was two-year-old Bea Barber, a plane-mad toddler who had been promised a day out by her parents Kat and Sean.

The Shrewsbury family, which also includes Bea’s younger brother Fox, had never been to the museum before coronavirus, but they weren’t going to miss the chance to explore and see the wide variety of planes.

“It’s nice to be able to come and do normal parenting things,” said Kat.

Bryony Owen, four, enjoys RAF Cosford Museum

Over in Cradley Heath a fitness instructor says she is delighted to be teaching once again – as indoor fitness group sessions resumed in line with Government guidance.

Helen Hill, 54, took her first class for six months on Monday morning at Haden Hill Leisure Centre.

Ms Hill, who is from Rowley Regis, held a spin class followed by low impact aerobics for her 50plus group.

She has worked at the Sandwell Leisure Trust facility for the last 30 years – and over the years has developed a very loyal and engaged customer base.

Helen Hill is a fitness instructor at Haden Hill

She said it was important for her to be back exercising and interacting with her customers again.

Ms Hill said: “You do miss your colleagues, friends and regulars.

“Regular exercise and social interaction is crucial for our physical and mental well-being and we are all absolutely thrilled to be back.

“It’s been extra tough for our older customers, with some shielding, because you stiffen up and can gain weight, when out of routine, plus we are like one big happy family here at Haden Hill, so the beaming smiles were so uplifting and fantastic to see.”

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