DRINKERS have told an Oxford pub boss they want to stay safe by sitting outside while the weather is fine.

Chris Meeson, who runs the Masons Arms in Headington, thinks this is the way forward for pubs and businesses trying to adjust following the coronavirus lockdown.

Oxford Mail:

Chris Meeson with his brother Matthew

Many of the city’s watering holes reopened their doors when lockdown was eased on July 4, with social restrictions in place and limited capacity.

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Oxford City Council and the Oxford Mail have joined forces to help boost city businesses and cultural attractions by encouraging people to Rediscover Oxford.

The campaign, which will run for at least the next six weeks, aims to encourage Oxfordshire residents to visit their home city for day trips, and those from further afield within the UK to visit for staycations.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Meeson spoke about his experience after the councils allowed St Michael’s Street and George Street to be shut off in sections so that al fresco dining could take place.

Mr Meeson said: “That’s definitely the way forward - it’s all about building people’s confidence and right now they say it feels safer to be outdoors.

“Luckily for us we have a huge garden so it has been working very well and we have been lucky with the weather.

READ AGAIN: George Street part-pedestrianised for outdoor tables

“The tables are also getting booked out inside on a Friday night but people do seem to feel happier outside - there’s a nice decking area and that’s been crucial for us really.”

Mr Meeson said drinkers have been ‘very sensible’ in sticking to social distancing guidelines in a bid to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread.

Oxford Mail:

He added: “We have got screens at the bar, hand sanitiser and we get people to sign up to the track and trace system just in case.

“I’m happy with things at the moment but I do have a concern about what will happen when the weather turns with all these restrictions still in place.

“We’re quite a small pub indoors with about eight tables so we need to see how that is going to work.

“Lots of people have booked tables outside for the weekend but we will have to see what happens if the weather changes - we don’t know if they will stick to the bookings.”

Mr Meeson said the garden has a couple of marquees and he is considering getting more and some outdoor heaters.

He added: “The tricky thing is none of us are quite sure how long this is going to last.

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“But right now it is all about building confidence and the good weather has been helping.”

Oxford Mail:

Last year the family-run pub won the Oxford CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Pub of the Year for a sixth time, with judges hailing its quality beer and ambience.

CAMRA spokesman Dave Richardson said at the time: “It’s great to see the Masons reclaim the City POTY award having won it several times.”