THERE was plenty to celebrate this week as beer gardens, non-essential shops and gyms in East Renfrewshire reopened after months of lockdown.

Many people flocked to pubs where alcohol can be served outside to enjoy drinks and meals with family and friends again.

Among those to welcome back customers was Barrhead’s Cross Stobs Inn, where there was no shortage of people who were keen to raise their glasses.

Jonathan Wengel, manager at the pub, in Grahamston Road, told the Barrhead News: “It is such a relief to be open again. The weather isn’t great but we’ll get past that.

“We have the umbrellas up and the beer garden is looking good.”

Hospitality can operate until 8pm indoors and 10pm outdoors, although alcohol can only be served outside.

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It will be May 17 before pubs and restaurants are able to sell booze indoors again. This will be allowed until 10.30pm, in two-hour time slots.

“The lockdowns have been pretty devastating,” Jonathan said. “We’re staying optimistic, especially with the vaccine being rolled out.

“Some of the staff here have had the jab and I’m getting mine soon.”

More than 100 customers booked to visit the Cross Stobs Inn on Monday, including Bobby and Susan Niven, who popped down early in the afternoon.

Bobby said: “This is my local. I bring our dog Molly in whenever we’ve been for a walk. We thought it would be nice to come in for it reopening.

“Susan is actually heading for her second jab, so she’s having a coffee before she goes.

“For me, a nice cold pint has gone down a treat.”

Also enjoying the chance to visit the beer garden were Alan Moffat, Frank McAuley, Barry Price, Andy Adam, Brian McWilliams, James O’Donnell, Derek Patrick and Charlie Stirling.

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Meanwhile, customers have been flocking back to the Uplawmoor Hotel, where general manager Derek McLachlan is thrilled to be up and running again.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “People have supported us throughout lockdown by getting takeaways but they have also been asking when we were going to be opening again.

“We aren’t in the town or city centre, so people have said they feel a lot safer coming here than elsewhere as it’s nice and friendly, as opposed to groups doing pub crawls, where people are in and out and anyone could be there.

“We do always have to think about another possible closure but all we can do is look after ourselves and our customers and make sure we’re fit and well to work.”

Jim McInroy was suited and booted for the special occasion.

He said: “I’ve been looking forward to getting a pint of Guinness.

“It is nice to be out and about.”

Monday was also a big day for Rick Houston, of The Cartvale, in Busby, as he opened his newly-refurbished beer garden, which seats 100 people.

Rick had been working on the project since January and carried out much of the transformation himself, with the help of friends who donated their time for free and local suppliers who provided items at cost.

He said: “The community is desperate for any sense of normality. They’ve missed the camaraderie of the pub and many of them are keen to have a proper draught pint again.

“Taking over a pub in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t ideal timing but I’ve no regrets. We’re very grateful to the community. They’ve got behind us and supported us every step of the way.

“It has been a tough time for pubs. We’ve been fortunate to have received 90 per cent rent cuts for much of the pandemic from the pub’s owners, Star Pubs and Bars. Many licensees haven’t been so lucky and are in a precarious position.”

Retailers also breathed a sigh of relief this week as they welcomed back customers, taking a welcome step towards recovery after being badly hit by the pandemic.

And bosses at East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure (ERCL) told of their delight after they welcomed visitors back to the Barrhead Foundry and Eastwood Park Leisure Centre.

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Gym facilities at both venues have reopened and swimming pools will be available from May 3, along with Neilston Leisure Centre’s gym and swimming pool.

Outdoor sports classes for children are available to book online now, with classes starting on May 4, while swimming lessons will also resume in the coming weeks.

Anthony McReavy, ERCL chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to reopen our doors and welcome new and familiar faces alike to our venues.

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff continues to be our priority and social distancing and cleanliness measures will be in place across all of our venues and facilities.

“We are preparing our community halls and remaining facilities to welcome back customers as soon as possible, in line with the latest guidance. I want to thank all of our customers and staff for their continued support and patience during this time.

“We look forward to seeing everyone again very soon.”

In line with government guidance, indoor fitness classes are expected to be available from May 17.

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