Punch Pubs chief executive Clive Chesser has described outdoors reopening as more “psychologically important than economically important”.

Speaking on MCA’s The Conversation, Chesser said the leased pub company had reopened 750 of its English pubs yesterday, which works out at around 68% of its estate, with a further 90 to follow at the weekend.

Describing the change as a “baby step” towards proper reopening, he told MCA contributing editor Peter Martin he had had reports of full gardens at lunchtime across the country, despite cold and snowy conditions first thing in the morning.

Chesser said the pub company was blessed with an above average number of gardens in its suburban and rural estate, which was a “nice place to be”.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “We’ve got about 68% of our pubs open and trading, and we think we’ll build to around about 74% in England at the weekend, so over the average.

“I want to stress that, we call this a reopening, but I do keep reminding people, it’s a partial opening.

“We’re still at around 30% capacity mark, so today’s really exciting, there’s been a really positive buzz over the weekend, with people sharing photos of all the work that’s gone on getting gardens ready, but it’s probably more psychologically important than economically important.

“It’s a good step, but it’s really a baby step towards the real opening, which will take place in June when we can actually trade at a profitable level.”