Bars, restaurants and hotels are back… But not as we knew them.
Hospitality businesses across England have finally been given the go-ahead to re-open after closing their doors on March 23, and while it’s incredibly exciting news for all of us who’d very much like to experience our favourites foods and beers again, it’s essential we remember that things are going to be quite different. Officially outlining the many rules food and drink establishments will now need to follow, the government has released the changes that will be made – and there’s a lot to take in before we hurry off for a freshly poured pint. Here are some of the changes you’ll notice when visiting bars and restaurants.
New ways of working for staff
Some of the biggest changes made mostly affect hospitality workers, however, customers will probably notice a lot of changes in their regular haunts as a result. New rules include back-to-back or side-to-side working, which will help to keep staff safe from one another and significantly reduce facetime. Not only that, but workers will also be required to use PPE when at work, including face masks and even visors, depending on their role. Screens will be placed in service points, such as counters, receptions and front-of-house desks to help protect both staff and customers.
Venues will also be responsible for keeping good levels of ventilation, so you can expect doors and windows to be wedged open. Kitchen staff will be required to keep a distance from waiting staff, with designated drop-off and pick-up points for food, which will cut out contact between the two teams. Staff will also now be able to refuse service to anyone not following new COVID-19 regulation, including social distancing and not pre-booking before attending the venue. Venues are also being told to encourage patrons to avoid using public transport when visiting.
Bars, restaurants, hotels and other businesses will be required to keep temporary records on all staff and customers entering their establishments for 21 days. This is to assist with the NHS ‘Test and Trace’ service, which will help to contain and minimise any outbreaks of the virus.
Venues will be expected to reduce their capacity to allow for social distancing, ensuring that there’s a safe and comfortable distance between tables. The government has advised venues that gatherings over 30 are illegal, and that groups should be of up to two households only indoors, and up to two households or six people only outdoors. The new guidance also suggests staggering opening and closing times with other venues, to ensure that there is not a build-up of queues or people exiting at one time.
One-way routes through venues could become to norm, allowing for social distancing and preventing customers and staff from crossing paths or bumping into each other when travelling around the venue. In addition, customers can also expect the queueing systems that we’ve seen at supermarkets to transfer over to other business types to help safety grant entry to people. Reservation systems will also become the norm, with many restaurants and bars expected to adopt pre-booking systems to help manage customers numbers at all times.
New ways of ordering
Service is likely to be very different from what you remember, with the government advising to keep contact at a minimum where possible. Customers may need to get used to using apps such as Seatd to order their meals and drinks, with only one member of staff assigned to certain tables. Cutlery, glasses and condiments won’t be found on tables anymore like they previously were, and will only be provided when food and drinks are served.
Condiments will be served in disposable containers or sachets, to allow restaurants to dispose of these after first-time use. Self-service will no longer be allowed, so we can say goodbye to our beloved Sunday carvery for some time to come. When it comes to paying, card payments are preferred – in particular, contactless payments where able to avoid contact.
No live entertainment
Live entertainment will not be allowed for some time, including comedians, singers and dancers. Venues have also been told to refrain from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting (no Mr. Brightside then…), and when music is played, it must be at a reasonable level to allow for conversation. This is to avoid ‘aerosol transmission’, which there is a potential increased risk for when shouting, or of course, having to get closer to one another to speak. Dance floors will be transformed into extra seating areas, and no standing will be permitted.
Establishments will, of course, be required to increase their cleaning protocols, including all touchpoints, service areas, tables, and toilets. Increased hand washing and surface cleaning will be required, and customers will be encouraged to sanitise using new hand sanitisation points throughout venues. Visible cleaning schedules are required by businesses, so customers can see how frequently spaces are being disinfected.