Oxford pubs have been preparing for reopening with the easing of restrictions from Monday the 12th of April.

Pubs will only be able to reopen outside, and this has presented some challenges, as pubs have had to adapt to being unable to serve inside.

The Oxford Blue has spoken to Big Society, a pub in Cowley. They told us they have the capacity for 60 to 70 people outside, down from about 200 normally. They have refurbished their outdoor spaces, putting down AstroTurf and putting out covered tables that can stay open in all weather, sun, rain, or snow. They have also made preparations for Track and Trace and social distancing.

Big Society also said they would be offering new drink deals after reopening, with a new Happy Hour of 5 to 8 pm each day offering £3.50 on pints and £5.50 on cocktails.

The Oxford Blue has also spoken to The Anchor, a pub in Jericho. The Anchor told The Blue they had been preparing to open “a huge 200-seater outside space”, by converting a car park “into a large garden with a Bedouin-style stretch tent to create an all-weather outdoor pub and restaurant”. The Anchor informed us locals had helped support them via Crowdfunder, buying bar tabs to be redeemed when they reopened.

The Anchor also told The Blue that as there was no garden at The Duke of Cambridge, their other bar, they would be creating a pop-up cocktail bar at the Anchor over weekends with live music on Fridays.

The City Council has assisted pubs in reopening by closing several roads to allow pubs to expand onto the streets with tables. Streets that will be pedestrianised include Cornmarket Street, St Michael’s Street, Broad Street, Dawson Street, Observatory Street, and North Parade Avenue.

One pub which will benefit from the scheme is The Plough on Cornmarket Street, which has been contacted for comment.

However, not all pubs have been able to or have chosen to reopen. The Blue attempted to contact The White Horse on Broad Street for comment, but it does not intend to reopen until May. According to its social media, The King’s Arms will also not be reopening until the 17th of May.

The pandemic has been tough for many Oxford pubs. The Lamb and Flag, which is over 400 years old, was forced to close earlier this year. There have also been questions as to whether the Mitre, which was closed by Lincoln College to refurbish student rooms above it, will reopen following lockdown.    

However, there is also a note of optimism as pubs expect a warm reception after four long months of lockdown. The Turf Tavern appeared to be preparing for a surge in demand, posting a photo on their Instagram of a beer truck parked beneath the Bridge of Sighs making a delivery to them.

Big Society told us they were almost fully booked for their first week (although they will still take walk-ins) and were expecting to be “really busy” next week.

The Anchor further told The Oxford Blue “We expect around 300 people the first day of opening which is very exciting. People seem so pleased to finally be able to meet up and have fun again and hopefully celebrate things moving back towards normality!”

Image Credits: Big Society, Oxford