York has “got its vibe back”, said one city centre business owner, as cafes and pubs reopen indoors and hotels and attractions welcome back visitors.
People queued outside York Minster before it reopened on Monday and staff say they are delighted to welcome visitors again.
And hotels have reopened, with one owner saying they are fully booked for the weekend but do have worries about further lockdowns depending on the spread of variants of the virus.
The Maltings in Tanner’s Moat has not been open to customers since the start of the year but Daniel Rowley from the pub said the reopening was busy and regular customers were back.
There is an electronic temperature checker on the wall next to the bar, a hand sanitiser station and check-in for track and trace.
Daniel said the bar would usually be packed, but added: “At the moment we’re at 50 per cent capacity and it feels a lot busier than that because we are doing table service.”
FortyFive Vinyl Café
At FortyFive Vinyl Café in Micklegate, owner Dom White said he is “pretty pleased” with how the first day open went.
He said catching up with colleagues and customers has been a highlight: “It’s good to see everyone in person. The vibe is back again.”
But he said some staff took other jobs during lockdown so he is recruiting new employees and has concerns about demand if other workplaces do not fully reopen: “We are so reliant on the offices here. People will come in and have meetings. We don’t know if the office trade is going to come back yet.”
No. 21 guesthouse
Andrea Schipper and Simon Boyle run No. 21 York guesthouse in St Mary’s and will welcome their first guests back this weekend, when they are fully booked.
They said people have been booking longer stays than usual and they are looking forward to welcoming back some of their loyal customers.
Andrea said: “We do have a good amount of bookings. It looks positive but it does depend on the spread of the variants.”
Simon added: “We can’t wait, these buildings come alive when they have people in them.
“To say we are not worried would be foolish, but after having gone through three lockdowns, we know we can survive. We will take it as it comes and hope another lockdown doesn’t happen.”
Patricia Dunlop, director of visitor experience at York Minster, said staff were delighted to welcome back visitors on Monday.
She said: “We had a small queue ready to come in when we opened the doors at 10am on Monday, and it gave us all a thrill to be able to welcome them in again.
“Since then have had a steady stream of visitors and are gently picking up the welcome that we have not been able to offer since December.
“There is something awe-inspiring and beautiful about being able to experience this magnificent building again at last.
“Reduced capacity and timed ticketing ensure that everyone has a relaxed visit with plenty of space to enjoy their surroundings.”
The Minster has been open to worshippers since March and the shop reopened in April – but this week is the first time sightseers have been able to visit again.
Patricia said events are planned through the summer when restrictions are lifted further, adding: “We have a busy programme planned for the summer with new exhibitions opening next month, to celebrate the return of the Grand Organ following the once-in-a-century refurbishment project and to explore our next major conservation project – the St Cuthbert Window.
“We also have some summer concerts and evening events planned for larger numbers as restrictions are eased. It was a delight to see people exploring this magnificent cathedral again. We look forward to welcoming many more over the summer.”