PUBS across South Lakeland made their long-awaited returns at the weekend with restrictions in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Ronnie Mullin, owner of The Factory Tap on Aynam Road in Kendal, said custom on Saturday, which came via bookings, was good, although he and his team were initially ‘nervous’ about operating under the new guidelines.

“We were nervous all night even though were were amongst people we knew,” he said.

“Sunday we didn’t have as many people in but there was a nicer atmosphere - I think that was mainly due to us not being as nervous about it.

“It’s a new way of working but it can work.”

Though there will be an emphasis on bookings going forward, there is now a sign outside the Tap saying members of the public walking past can inquire about space and staff will fit them in if they can do so safely.

A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said reopening at The Miles Thompson on Allhallows Lane, Kendal, went ‘really smoothly’ with the police ‘keeping up their checks throughout the day’.

He said: “The pub was fairly busy, with all the tables occupied, and it was fantastic to welcome some of our regular customers again.

“We are delighted to welcome back staff and customers after a long period away.”

Peter Nicholson, owner of The New Inn on Highgate, Kendal, unveiled a brand new beer garden which he said cost in excess of £20,000.

Equipped with a ‘barn’, hay bales and a hitching post, it is designed to reflect the history of the yard in which it has been built, with Mr Nicholson saying it used to be a stable.

However, he will be operating reduced hours until business picks up and does not feel there will be ‘the numbers returning to the pubs’ right away, saying the public had been ‘frightened’ by the government.

He has put screens, bars, and social distancing measures in place to adhere to coronavirus guidelines.

Elsewhere, the owners of The Crafty Baa on Victoria Street, Windermere, found themselves ‘busy’ and ‘at [a new, reduced] capacity for a big part of Saturday’.

Vince Gregg, who runs the pub with son Ben and wife Lisa, said he was ‘ecstatic’ to be back after many months.

“The Crafty Baa is a place that’s full of happiness, smiling faces,” he said.

“It’s a fun place to be. It was good to revitalise that, get the family business up and running again and get the heart back into the business again, into those rooms.”