Coronavirus: How are pubs keeping customers safe?

Since the lockdown first started in March, restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs across Northern Ireland, Scotland and England are opening their doors to clients for the first time.

– Restaurants, pubs, hotels and any hosts of a Christmas party venue in East London, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and wider England serving their eateries at tables have been allowed to reopen indoors.

– From 13 July pubs and restaurants in Wales are open outdoors and from 3rd August reopen indoors.

Is it safe to go to the pub?

There have been guidelines put in place in Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland on how restaurants and pubs must behave to keep their staff and customers safe.

Some of the measures include:

– The choice of ordering food using apps
– Staff wash their hands before dealing with cutlery and plates
– Music to be kept at a relatively low volume to prevent the need of people shouting, which can increase the transmission risk
– Pub-goers encouraged to book in advance
– Standing at the bar and live gigs are not allowed
– Access to toilets is controlled

In the meantime, the Wetherspoons pub chain stated that their personnel will be protective eyewear and face masks and that it will be running a much-reduced food menu. Ketchup and mayonnaise bottles will be switched with individual sachets. Clients sitting outside in the pub gardens is highly encouraged, while indoor seating places separated with plastic screens.

In Northern Ireland, social distancing has been minimised from 2m to 1m and from 2m to an additional 1m in England. In both of the cases, restrictions are applicable. If certain steps are taken, indoor cafes, restaurants and pubs in Scotland can be exempt from the 2m social distancing rule.

If I eat out, do I have to provide contact details?

UK hospitality and pub trade bodies have issued guidance for restaurants and bars on how they can do contact tracing.

– Contact information will only need to be taken from a single individual in a group
– The information should be retained for 21 days
– Customers only have to provide their phone number and name. Owners should also account for their time of arrival, and the duration they stayed
– Details can be collected in a number of ways – online, on paper or during a phone booking
– Persons have grounds to refuse to give details, but owners reserve the rights not to serve them

If a customer tests positive, will the restaurant or pub in question have to close?

Perhaps, but not really. An official government statement says that NHS Test and Trace call doesn’t necessarily mean a restaurant or pub will be shutdown. It depends on when the infected individual was there plus an array of other circumstances.

NHS Test and Trace may require your staff to:

– get tested for Covid-19
– adhere to social distancing measures
– self-isolate “in certain scenarios”

The local health officials, however, have the mandate to shut down the establishment.

In England, some of the pubs that reopened on the 4th of July soon closed after clients tested positive.

– After drinkers test positive pubs close
– The second pub forced to shut down in town

If NHS Test and Trace personally get in touch with you, follow their advice and prepare to self-isolate for two weeks.

How did the hospitality sector cope during the lockdown?

According to UK Hospitality, in 2018, this sector was the third-highest employer in the entire country. But even before the onset of Covid-19, most cafes and restaurants were struggling due to the decline in consumer spending and rising rents.

Under the job retention scheme of the government, thousands of workers have been furloughed, enabling them to get 80% of their salary for up to £2,500. The association representing the pubs industry, The British Beer and Pub Association, welcomed the reopening of establishments and called upon pub-goers to support the staff.