The Whitworth

As lockdown restrictions begin to lift and Manchester streets once again to fill with people, we’re all trying to find ways to get back to normal safely. After the hardships of the past year, these new freedoms come with heady levels of possibility – but also a strong sense of responsibility to our NHS, and the most vulnerable among us. If you’re beginning to dip back into the very best that Manchester has to offer, here are a few key pointers on how to do so safely; and don’t forget to always check the current guidance on the government’s website ahead of time.

Taking a sensible approach

It’s an obvious point, but now that bars, restaurants, shops and cultural venues are beginning to reopen, places will sometimes become busy – which means patience is key. The British are famously good at queuing, and now is as good a time as ever to exercise this aptitude well: leave space behind the people in front of you and if the next person gets too close, you have every right to politely ask them to move back. Where bars, parks or streets are beginning to look crowded, it’s worth considering heading elsewhere – and spare a thought for any staff you meet who are no doubt doing their best to manage the influx of people. All in all, it’s simple stuff: be patient, considerate and use common sense.

Outdoor seating

We have a guide dedicated to Things to do outdoors in Manchester, which includes a section on bars and restaurants with outdoor tables. Outdoor seating is the safest option for the time being – luckily there’s a plethora of options in the city, from the stately Albert Square Chop House, to newcomer Alvarium in the Northern Quarter; from the historic Briton’s Protection to neighbourhood bar and kitchen Elnecot

Be aware of peak times

This applies to public transport, with commuter routes in particular usually busier between 06.30am to 09.30am and between 4pm to 7pm in the evening on weekdays – but is equally a useful way of thinking about bars, restaurants, beauty businesses and cultural venues. If you’re able to plan your visit around the busiest period, it may well be safer to do so.

Book ahead where possible

Those places that are able to offer bookings are a good way to guarantee avoiding having to walk away from an unsafe queue or crowd. It’s worth always checking ahead to see what the approach is – whether that be at a hospitality venue or cultural hotspot. We’ve put together a full roundup of restaurants and bars that are taking bookings, but to get you started: check out newcomer Escape to Freight Island, where you’ll find street food, bars, music and immersive art. Or there’s The Oast House, a rustic pub inside a former hop-drying shed, The Refuge’s new terrace, Rudy’s Peter Street or The Lowry Hotel’s terrace.


The advice above about peak times applies here, as do the longstanding guidance to leave space, wear a face mask, and regularly sanitize your hands. Beyond this, it’s worth remembering that both the safest, and most environmentally friendly, form of transport is either cycling or walking. Take a look at our Top 5 Cycling Routes and Walking Trails in Manchester guides for some ideas.

Parks and green spaces

For exercise, alfresco food and safely meeting friends, Manchester’s parks and green spaces are hard to beat. There’s Whitworth Park, home to the Whitworth Art Gallery and an adventure play area for kids. Altogether more secluded is St John’s Gardens, a hidden away spot just off Deansgate that’s on the site of a former church. Cathedral Gardens is a lovely place from which to admire Manchester Cathedral itself, as well as Chetham’s Library, the National Football Museum and the Corn Exchange. Out of the city are the larger, grander estates: Lyme Park (booking required) and Heaton Park being two favourites. If you do end up enjoying a picnic, please take your litter with you – and, as ever, the key is to assess how busy these spaces are getting, and head elsewhere if they’re becoming crowded.

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