Things to do in Chester now it’s re-opened for business

PUBLISHED: 16:15 16 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 16 July 2020

Al fresco dining is all the rage to keep up with social distancing guidelines. Photo: CH1ChesterBID

Al fresco dining is all the rage to keep up with social distancing guidelines. Photo: CH1ChesterBID

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Thinking of visiting Chester? It’s open for business and ready to serve

Hannah and Gabs from Dough Dough, where they have created a new deli section and time slots for tables. Photo: CH1 Chester BIDHannah and Gabs from Dough Dough, where they have created a new deli section and time slots for tables. Photo: CH1 Chester BID

Lovely, lovely Chester. Once a Roman settlement, the county town has often been ranked among the best places to live in the UK, and quite rightly so. Steeped in history and with a wealth of shops, restaurants and things to do within walking distance, the picturesque city is a hub for modern-day life. Bordered by the River Dee and famous for its double-row shops across the high street, you can walk the city walls, have some time out at Chester Cathedral and pop just outside the city for a wild day out at Chester Zoo or a spot of retail therapy at the Cheshire Oaks designer outlet. There are museums, visitor centres, and local favourite (theatre, cinema and library) Storyhouse, while for the port-lovers, there’s sailing and rowing on the river, and tennis, squash, cricket, rugby and football clubs all on the doorstep.

When it comes to architecture, the city centre is home to a rich mixture, with fine, period buildings (many of which were private townhouses before being used as offices, and are now returning to residential use) and modern developments, some of which are traditional in style and others that are contemporary. Perfect for those looking for city living, Chester offers a wide selection of house types and accommodation, catering for students and young professionals to families and those who are ready to downsize. It is strategically placed for the daily commute, with both Manchester and Liverpool accessible by the M53 and M56, while London Euston is just a two-hour train journey away. There’s also a good selection of both state and private schools.

Jackson-Stops Chester director Stephen Cheshire says: “There’s an extensive selection of national retailers and within the famous rows of Chester are more individual boutique-style shops. “The city offers residents excellent public open space in the form of Grosvenor Park, Edgar’s Field, The Meadows and the River Dee, all of which provide an extremely attractive environment.”

Katie Jones at Weasel and the Bug. Photo: CH1 Chester BIDKatie Jones at Weasel and the Bug. Photo: CH1 Chester BID

Al fresco, please

Super Saturday (or as we used to know it, the 4th of July) saw more than 120 hospitality businesses open their doors to the people of Chester, just weeks after the city’s 200 independent shops, boutiques and galleries said hello to customers for the first time in three months. Focus has turned to a more European-style pavement culture (al fresco dining is being very well received), while there’s been ingenuity with social distancing in some of the older buildings, with quirky layouts and a kiosk-style approach, adding life to the city’s streets in the style of an open-air market place. The new norm is also home to table buzzers that tell you when your food is ready, large menus to photograph and apps that show the menu on your phone so you can order from the table. CH1 Chester Business Improvement District (BID) manager Carl Critchlow says: “Drinking and dining out won’t feel ‘normal’ at first, so it’s important to make sure people feel safe. We’re expecting some people to embrace this step back to meeting and eating with a great amount of gusto – and others will want to tiptoe slowly back.”

Have you visited Chester Zoo yet? Here’s how it’s working now

People are flooding back to the lovely streets of Chester as lockdown eases. Photo: CH1ChesterBIDPeople are flooding back to the lovely streets of Chester as lockdown eases. Photo: CH1ChesterBID

Top tips before you head into the city to dine...

1. Check it out: visit Experience Chester to see if the restaurant, bar or café you want to go to is open.

2. Call ahead and book: the maximum number of diners at one time is 30 and there is a six-person-over-two-household limit.

Michelle Earl at Sostrene Grene says there's been a steady flow of customers. Photo: CH1 Chester BIDMichelle Earl at Sostrene Grene says there's been a steady flow of customers. Photo: CH1 Chester BID

3. Expect sanitation: there will be many more hygiene measures in place and sanitisers at tables and entrances will become ‘as normal as salt and pepper’.

4. Expect table service: some restaurants and bars will use a table service-only method to help social distancing.

5. Bring warm clothing: even if you don’t plan to sit outside, doors and windows will be open as much as possible.

6. Expect new systems: be it a mobile app menu, a single-use menu or one that’s slightly reduced. There may be a traffic light system to tell you if a table is ready to sit at, and there will be one-way walkways (including a one-in-one-out system for the loo). And expect to give your contact details on arrival.

The Townhouse Hotel, Chester. Photo: The Townhouse Hotel, ChesterThe Townhouse Hotel, Chester. Photo: The Townhouse Hotel, Chester

Competition: what is your simple pleasure? Win a 4-star hotel stay in The Townhouse Hotel, Chester

Chester residents, visitors and local businesses are being urged to document their ‘simple pleasures’ – and there’s a four-star hotel break up for grabs for doing so. The #simplepleasureschester hashtag hopes to bring together new ideas and images of your favourite real-life experiences in the city’s outdoor spaces. The best posts from the competition, run by Marketing Cheshire and Destination Cheshire, will be shared on Visit Cheshire’s social media channels. Marketing Cheshire chief executive and deputy chief executive of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, Joe Manning, says: “As the country re-opens for business, we want to encourage locals and visitors to make a safe return to our beautiful city. This is the moment to re-appreciate what Chester has to offer and share inspiration about the huge variety of ways the city can be enjoyed.”

Use #simplepleasureschester on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Instagram and post your favourite photos.

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