PUBS in Monmouthshire will be able to reopen from Monday - and they are no less excited at the prospect than the patrons eager for that first sip since last year.

Hospitality in Wales will begin to reopen outdoors from Monday, April 26. This follows England opening outdoor hospitality on April 12.

The news has been welcomed by landlords, although some have said that due to the two-week discrepancy with the English relaxation they have missed out on vital trade.

Matthew Dawkins, landlord and head chef, at the Castle Inn in Usk said that he was excited to reopen and "start to return to some normality".

South Wales Argus: Matthew Dawkins, of the Castle Inn, Usk, who has added yet another trophy to a growing collection.

Matthew Dawkins, of the Castle Inn, Usk

However, he expressed "major concern" that opening outdoors only would not be financially viable.

"We just keep our fingers crossed that everyone abides by the rules set out and behaves accordingly so that we don’t have to wait long to open fully," he said.

"We will be reopening next week, but have made the decision to have a limited menu and only open Thursday-Sunday."

He said that staffing had become a major concern as the hospitality industry struggles to recruit people to meet the demands of the regulations.

"We will have to increase our staff to ensure all outdoor areas are observed regularly and safely," he explained.


"A member of staff will need to man our main entrance and toilets.

"While we also have to employ someone to ensure track and trace is provided be every visitor."

On top of this, Mr Dawkins said that additional staff would be required to ensure the pub's takeaway delivery service was maintained.

"These customers have supported us through the hard times and some are still so nervous to visit," he said.

"We dread to think what we will do if the weather changes and it may not be worth opening at all if the forecast is poor."

He said that he understood why the Welsh Government waited to see how England adjusted to the opening of hospitality, but "honestly all we hear and see is friends visiting pubs over the border and can you blame them?".

Pubs in Wales having to wait an extra two weeks compared to their counterparts over the border has been branded as 'unfair' by the landlord of Mathern's Miller's Arms.

Shaun Barnsley said that being open for just 76 days during the past 15 months had been a struggle.

"We find it unfair that we have had to wait an additional two weeks to open our pubs, as we know that 75 per cent have gone over to England as its only two and a half miles away," he said.

"We hope that our loyal customers will return but it is going to be a hard 18 months ahead of us."

All staff at the Miller's Arms have completed a Covid-19 safety course ahead of reopening.

"We have a marquee up for external dining and built a new decking area to extend our beer garden," said Mr Barnsley.

"We are not going to be able to take all our staff off furlough as we don't know how busy we will be which is added pressure to us. "We also have the worry of waiting to find out the rules and regulations from the Welsh Government."

"Other than that," he said, "we are excited about reopening and hope that we can get back to some sort of normality".

One pub which has found itself slap-bang in the middle of the cross-border confusion is The Anchor in Tintern.

South Wales Argus: The Anchor in Tintern

The Anchor in Tintern

South Wales Argus: The Anchor in Tintern has been mistaken as an English pub

The Anchor in Tintern has been mistaken for an English pub

Owner Neil Foreman explained that he has been having to turn away 40-50 phone calls daily from people looking to book.

"People have thought we were in England," he said, explaining that he has fielded calls from would-be patrons in Newport, Bristol and beyond.

"Last Saturday I didn’t have a table free outside," he said.

"We were shut, but they were all taken."

Mr Foreman said that he would "definitely" be reopening on Monday, and would even be allocating an area of the garden for those who have been shielding throughout lockdown and may be more apprehensive about rejoining social situations.

"It’s just a shame it’s only outside," he said.

"We have pretty much the same set-up as last year.

"Last year was really busy when we reopened. With our lovely setting we’re expecting to be busy again."