We may have our pubs back sooner rather than later.
Wetherspoons, Britain’s largest pub chain run by controversial millionaire Tim Martin, has announced an £11m plan to reopen 875 sites across the country. This plan will mean the chain is ready to open as soon as the government signals they can do so.
Customers will be required to sanitise their hands when they arrive and use one-way systems inside the bars. The tills will also use protected screens to ensure staff are safe, who will also be given masks, gloves and eye protection.
Wetherspoons employees will also be required to undertake a daily health questionnaire to confirm they are well enough to work. This will also involve having their temperature taken.
Moreover, customers will be encouraged to order via the app or use contactless cards. It will also be advised that drinkers should sit outside, but indoor tables will be screened off for extra protection. In addition, sachets will replace bottles of condiments, and food menus will be scaled back.
Each pub promises to clean surfaces consistently and rigorously, and is set to have a minimum of ten hand-sanitiser dispensers.
Wetherspoons pubs closed their doors on March 20, when the UK went into lockdown. However, the go-ahead for pubs to re-open isn’t expected to happen until July.
“At present, the government have not confirmed any reopening date for pubs,” said Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson. “However, it is important that we are prepared for any announcement. ‘We have spent a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans.”
Wetherspoons owner Tim Martin sparked controversy at the beginning of the lockdown by suggesting his laid-off, unpaid workers get jobs at Tesco instead. Many promised to boycott ‘Spoons after these comments. He then U-turned and put his workers on the government job-retention scheme.