Special report by Isabella Jewell.

PUB, restaurant and cafe managers in Oxford have expressed concern and excitement about students returning to the city.

More than 30,000 students are enrolled on university courses in Oxford in any year, and a huge number of those are returning this month after a summer away.

William Pouget, 45, owner of the Vaults & Garden Café off High Street, said students were 'an important part of the atmosphere', and he was worried about how the pandemic would reduce his numbers.

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He said: "We won’t get the icing and cherry on the cake but as long as we get the cake itself in terms of our core trade – students loving our breakfast, meeting up and socialising - that is enough for now.

Oxford Mail:

"The first term of the year is usually when we win over lots of new customers to be regulars – they discover the vaults and become part of our family.

"Because of social distancing they’re not going to get into that routine."

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Attila Iglai, 31, is assistant manager at another student hangout, Turf Tavern.

He said the pub's owner Greene King had issued 'strict guidance' which had cut his capacity by about 30 per cent, so he was excited to welcome students back.

He said: "We are really happy to see them return. After the summer time, our trading is 40 per cent students."

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Annabel Warnock, manager of Atomic Burger on Cowley Road, said: "We’ve been lacking the student vibes and the business, especially in Cowley.

"We’re really looking forward to them coming back and bringing a bit of vibrancy to the city – with everything that has happened it’s been really odd."

Clinton Pugh, owner of Café Coco, Kazbar and Café Terifa on Cowley Road, said that he was glad students were returning but also had reservations.

The 62-year-old said: "It’d be lovely to see as many people as possible to help the business, but obviously one hopes that people socially distance properly and are responsible when they’ve had a lot to drink.

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"The difficult thing with a lot of young people is they don’t seem to realise that they take it home to mum and dad, gran and grandad... the reality is this virus kills.

"I’m 62, so potentially I’m vulnerable: I have been a smoker so I must admit I don’t want to get the virus and be one of the unlucky ones – but unfortunately I run a business that I either open or I don’t.

"We haven’t got any choice, the economy needs to continue."

Another business which benefits from university students’ taste for booze is Honey’s On The High, a newsagents on Oxford’s High Street.

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Owner Hiten Patel, 43, said: "We are looking forward to seeing students back, we are in effect a student shop.

"We provide students with many products, from breakfast to dinner, stationary, not to mention the alcohol.

"Many have forgotten about the economy, the focus has been on health, we need to find a balance."

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