COVID-19 and The Yard
We closed our doors on the evening of Saturday March 14th, not knowing if we'd ever be opening them again.
Thankfully we were able to start offering community support from our venue from June 2nd. Initially by opening an outdoor Book Swap, to provide a service for borrowing books in the absence of the local library being able to open.
I must thank Mireille Hebing and Angie Barton, as well as Margaret Cox, Sarah Flatt, Sarah Parsons, Michelle Griffiths and Maureen Hounslow for helping to run this service.
On Friday 24th July we launched a new service, 'The Seatery' opening our space up for daytime seating, from 8am-6pm on weekdays, then later we extended this to evenings. That same day, we also had a soft opening in the evening, to test our renovated space on a small invited guest list. It was a great success and so we felt we were ready to reopen for live music to a limited audience, with suitable Covid-Secure procedures in place.
We have created screened perspex booths indoors, and have outside undercover seating, which meets Social Distancing guidelines, and we carry out stringent Infection Control procedures.
The plan was to open on Saturday 1st August, the day it was due to become legal to perform live music indoors, for the first time since March 23rd. However the government cancelled this date at the last moment, so A-Lone Buffalo and Stuey Moon switched to an outside performance, for half the audience, who had bought tickets, and David Fisher and Gregg Wise supported Nigel Chatfield on 14th August, following the same model, both evenings were enjoyed immenseley by our grateful regulars. Then with just 24 hour's notice, in the end we reopened officially on August 15th. Jamie Amos and Andrew Horseman put an an excellent last-minute show, on The Yard indoor stage, and everything worked well. Live Music was back although we could only offer seats to half the usual audience.
The Seatery proved to be really popular with those working from home or who fancied a change of scene, and for friends and family who wanted to meet in a safe environment. From 14 September the 'Rule of 6' was imposed, but that really hasn't changed much for us, as we mostly cater for small groups of 1-4 anyway, although we could accommodate a '6' with advance notice. All bookings for The Seatery were in advance, using our booking / track and trace system, but if someone did turn up on spec, we did our best to accommodate them.
The Level System was then introduced and both The Seatery and our Live Music continued throughout September and October. We were locked-down for the second time in November, and reopened again in Level 2, offering Live Music throughout December. Our final gig was December 18th, and we had a fantastic evening including entertainment from the 4 Chicks, supported by David Fisher, and a Christmas Quiz of epic proportions. The following day we were placed into Level 3, and our third Lockdown soon followed. We posted on Social Media wishing everyone well, but expressing our expectation that we wouldn't reopen before April 2nd. It was in fact April 12th.