Went into a restaurant yesterday evening for the first time since Saturday, March 14th. To all intents and purposes it was a normal restaurant. There were tables, chairs and a bar area with a line of traditional looking wooden tap handles for the draught beer that I could almost taste.
There was hatch through to a kitchen with the reassuring aroma of authentic freshly cooked pizza which for a brief moment transported me to Rome, or Venice or Florence.
Except I was in my home town picking up my pizza order to enjoy in the garden with a good friend we’ve not seen since pre-lockdown. I ordered it from an independent restaurant rather than getting one of those doughy Dominoes deep-pans.
Despite the lack of diners it felt good to be back in a restaurant and I really felt for the owners working together – possibly husband and wife – on this hot Friday evening taking orders over the phone, making wonderful Italian food just to keep their business afloat.
As I drove home through my still deserted home town centre there forlornly stood behind a makeshift podium was another small business owner selling take-away real ale to a short queue of drinkers.
These will be the outlets I support when the lockdown’s over, not the great global fast-food restaurants. It’s only at times like this that you really appreciate the people who take an extraordinary risk often working unsocial hours to provide these services that make like worthwhile.
Last night felt like another step back on the road to normal life. From Monday we can welcome other households, up to a maximum of six people, into our gardens. Some school year groups are to return on Monday, dentists can reopen from the 8th and then non-essential shops from July 15th. Two days after that the Premier League returns to action.
If we keep the R rate – reproduction number – below 1 there’s even a chance that pubs and restaurants will be able welcome guests to gardens and other outdoor spaces from July 4th. In some parts of Europe this is already happening and there’s increasing talk of the Government lifting – or establishing travel corridors to circumvent – their ridiculous, belated 14-day quarantine which is due to begin on June 8th.
One day soon lockdown will be completely over and we’ll think back to a crazy few months, a time in all our lives that we will never forget.