Rules around the reopening of pubs will create a "sterile, unattractive, horrible atmosphere", warns the owner a chain of south Cumbrian bars.

Pubs and restaurants are gearing up to welcome back guests on Friday night following the long coronavirus shutdown.

However, Stephen Hargreaves, who is chief executive of Hargreaves Enterprises which incorporates Bowness bars the Fizzy Tarte, Baha and the Lake View Garden bar, said the rules amounted to "the worst night out you could have".

Under Government rules, showing live sport is banned and venues cannot play loud music.

They also have to keep a record of the names and addresses of all those who visit and, of course, ensure people maintain social distancing and take strict hygiene precautions.

"They have created the worst night out you could have," said Stephen.

"You have created a sterile, unattractive, horrible atmosphere.

“It’s really challenging to figure out how it’s going to be.

"To manage people in a pub environment where they have to stay sat down and can't say hello to the table next to them or walk over and see someone they haven't seen for three months - it's going to be difficult."

He said his venues had rearranged their furniture to try and help people maintain a safe distance and would keep track of guests by having QR codes on tables they could scan on their mobile phones.

The bars will open on Friday.

Stephen said he would make a judgement on when and how long they opened in the future depending on how the coming weeks went.

However, the operation was set to make a loss whatever happened.

"We will make huge losses for however long this social distancing has to be in place," he said.

"It's just not viable."

Ronnie Mullin, who runs the Factory Tap, in Kendal, said people would be able to book a time slot at the popular pub and anyone turning up without a booking would have to take a chance on there being a table available.

"We will have a sign outside saying something along the lines of 'We are open, but for bookings, and we might have space but don't be offended if we say no'," he said.

The pub has initially invited members of its tap union to make bookings, whose details it already has.

Others will have to fill in their contact details on arrival.

Ronnie said one person would tend the bar while other members of staff delivered drinks to tables wearing the appropriate protective equipment.

The tables had been rearranged to allow for social distancing and staff would make sure people kept to the rules while they were in the premises.

"I think it's our job to suggest if they are getting a bit too close," said Ronnie.

"But we have a very nice clientele, we never have any trouble and I don't expect any now."

He said it was good to be back in business, although some staff were still on furlough and it was unlikely the bar would turn a profit.

"Three months with absolutely no-one coming in takes its toll, I think we will just about break even," he said.