**The picture above dates from before the Coronavirus lockdown and was taken in The Talbot Cuckfield**
With the opening of pubs, restaurants and bars from the 4th July we still need to mindful that this is not ‘business as usual’ quite yet. Whilst these businesses have been working hard to understand, assess and implement the new requirements for keeping their workers and customers safe, we as customers must also play our part. We expect that demand will be high so patience and understanding are definitely the key words here. Remember these businesses have been closed for over 3 months – there are new processes, new ways of accessing the business and its services, and potentially new staff all due to hit the ground running from day 1 – the 4th of July. There has been no real opportunity to test out these new ways of working so please do bear with staff as they navigate these new waters.
The Government has published a number of guidelines to support businesses in their preparations. This link provides this detail: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5eb96e8e86650c278b077616/Keeping-workers-and-customers-safe-during-covid-19-restaurants-pubs-bars-takeaways-230620.pdf . It’s a beefy document so I’m taking this opportunity to highlight some of the key elements that they have been asked to adhere to that will impact us as customers – so we are ready too.
All businesses have been tasked with completing a risk assessment in respect of their business, their workers and customers – we, as customers, need to risk assess ourselves too. In basic terms - are we fit to go out? If you’re showing any Covid-19 symptoms you should self-isolate in line with the guidelines: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/when-to-self-isolate-and-what-to-do/ .
We must all still abide by the social distancing measures. These apply in pubs, bars and restaurants and are described in detail in this FAQ link. They are summarised as:
From 4 July:
- you can meet in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) in any location - public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household - you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case - even inside someone’s home - that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers
- when you are outside you can continue to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
- It will be against the law to gather in groups larger than 30 people, except for a limited set of circumstances to be set out in law
What have businesses done to prepare to re-open and what will be different to what I’m used to?
- They will have assessed how many customers they can now have on the premises and how their tables/chairs are laid out, whether a one-way system is needed, for example – this is unlikely to be as many as previously so you may find that they can’t accommodate you when you arrive.
- They will have worked with the local authority and other local businesses regarding queuing routes/locations – you may find you do need to queue or pass by other customers who are queuing. These are for your safety as well as other customers, workers and businesses. They may have introduced booking systems – check before you leave home so as to avoid disappointment, especially if you are going out as a permissible group as described above. Staff will be managing queues – remember they are doing their best.
- They will have assessed the access and exit routes into the premises. These may be different from what you have used before.
- You may be asked to use hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities prior to or on entry.
- The Government has asked businesses to record who their customers are, including contact details, for Test and Trace reasons should anyone subsequently be diagnosed with Covid 19.
- Indoor and soft play areas must currently remain closed – so if you are taking children with you, you could consider taking an activity for them so they can stay close to you and you can support them to maintain social distancing.
- You may find that glasses, crockery, cutlery have been exchanged for disposable items as this time and it is likely that you won’t be able to wander around or lean on other surfaces, eg bars. This will help staff with cleaning in between customers.
- Most businesses are likely to request that you use contactless payment methods – if you don’t have these call ahead to check what alternatives they are able to process at this time.
- Some businesses may require customers to order using an app or similar – if you don’t have access to this type of technology call ahead to check what alternative they are able to process at this time – you may be able to pre-order or there may be table service.
- You should expect to find that areas in restaurants, for example, which were previously self-service no longer offer this as an option.
- You may find that to increase ventilation more windows and doors are left open.
On a final note – you may need think about your journey to and from the pub, restaurant or bar. For those who are driving social distancing/passenger household combinations do apply (see section 1.9 of the FAQ link above) and public carparks may have limited capacity and those which had their charging suspended for much of lockdown are charging to park again. If you are planning to take public transport all passengers are required to wear a face covering, with some noted exceptions (see section 5.2 of the FAQ link above) and again there will be reduced capacity.
The re-opening of pubs, restaurants and bars is a step in the Recovery Plan not only for the community but our economy. For those venturing out to use these facilities from the 4th July remember those key words – patience and understanding plus of course, enjoy yourself.