Opinion: With coronavirus lockdown easing, the diary fills up - as will the pubs

Beatrix Clark at Brent Cross, doing her bit for the economy. Picture: Beatrix Clark

Beatrix Clark at Brent Cross, doing her bit for the economy. Picture: Beatrix Clark - Credit: Beatrix Clark

Columnist Beatrix Clark ventures out to a shopping centre and contemplates the prospect of a beer garden.

So it’s goodbye lockdown (at least for now) and hello new normal as places we’ve known and loved welcome us back with a smile and a squirt of hand sanitizer.

People are less wary of one another, building projects are springing up at every turn and despite no changing rooms and a mild telling off for forgetting to follow the arrows, my first trip to Brent Cross in three and a half months - previously a frivolity, now a national duty - was far more pleasant than I had anticipated.

Picnicking by the canal in Islington with a friend I hadn’t seen for ages was equally enjoyable aside from a woman accosting us to see if we agreed that now’s a great time to start a revolution (we told her we didn’t).

Social arrangements are creeping back into the diary, boosted by the knowledge that we can legitimately invite guests inside should the weather go pear-shaped.

My husband’s putting the finishing touches to Cellar Clarkos in readiness for his new, non-virtual wine club, and our son’s “Yo bro, just leaving my yard” into his mobile is a clear sign that evenings en famille - though definitely not the cooking rota - are on the way out.

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The imminent re-opening of hairdressers, cinemas, restaurants and pubs is a cause for celebration but also, in the case of the latter, slight trepidation.

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Mass gatherings of excited Brits consuming large amounts of alcohol don’t bode well at the best of times, let alone after being cooped up for three months, and the idea of having to register on an app whenever we feel like popping out for a drink (if indeed that’s what will be required – as usual, no one seems quite sure) does not sound appealing.

Prices too may cause us to pause with Hampstead pubs charging for a glass of average plonk what we’ve been spending on an entire bottle of something far better, not to mention concern about the virus itself because who’s going to socially distance after a few pints or Proseccos?

As we are regularly reminded, Covid is far from over. No sooner are we contemplating lives beyond Netflix and Zoom than reports of rising cases in Europe or a lockdown in Leicester populate our news feeds.

Even as politicians espouse the need to rebuild the economy so our children can have a future, a scientist or irate LBC presenter condemns widespread re-opening due to fear of a second wave.

They may have a point but businesses, leisure and mental health have suffered enough; people must make individual risk assessments and move forward with their lives.

I’m looking forward to The Spaniards (garden) in a couple of weeks but won’t go near a pub on July 4; our Greece trip might work in September but crowded British beaches are a no-no.

I’ll try my best to navigate the apps, arrows, screens and face-masks, and if it all gets too tricky I’ll be back in my yard.