PUNTERS were boozing under blankets in busy pub gardens as lockdown restrictions eased - with one landlord saying it was so busy he almost had to turn people away.

Pubs were full to the brim on their re-opening night on Monday, with regulars enjoying a lively atmosphere.

Pubs could cater for outside dining and drinking only, as part of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Landlords saw tables crammed from 6pm onwards.

The Bread and Cheese pub in Benfleet saw a spike of customers as daylight hours drew to a close, with the pub hitting maximum capacity outside.

Echo: The Bread and Cheese pubThe Bread and Cheese pub

Steve Haslam, the owner of TLC inns, which run the pub, “came close” to turning drinkers away. He said: “The evening was really busy, but it all went to plan. It was all smooth sailing.

“It’s not like the first lockdown when people wanted to break the rules, they understand them now. There were no issues.

“We had 100 people in the garden, it was great to see that after all this time.”


The Borough Hotel, on Marine Parade Southend, was forced to extend its opening hours due to the amount of customers sitting outside.

Owner Joan Tiney said: “We opened until 7pm rather than 6pm. We’re playing it by ear with the next few days.

“There’s no point committing to opening to our usual hours when we don’t know what the weather is going to do.”

Bosses at the Castlemayne pub, the Knares, Basildon, also welcomed punters back.

Staff member Lee Timms, 45, said: “It was a great day for us on Monday. We were full all day, from start to finish.

“A lot of people stayed for the whole day too, which was nice to see from our point of view.”

Echo: The Castlemayne pubThe Castlemayne pub

Simon Patterson, co-owner of the Chinnerys pub, on Marine Parade, added: “We were really pleased with the day we had.

“Some of our staff are still on furlough, which isn’t nice for anyone, but it’s great to be open again.”

Southend also saw huge queues of shoppers outside Primark on the high street, as non-essential retail also opened.