We’ve already explored what lifting restrictions might mean for the UK hospitality industry but what might pubs and bars look like under social distancing measures that advise staying more than 2m (6ft) apart from anyone other than members of your household?
On 17 April, British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin outlined that Britain’s pubs would need a minimum of three weeks’ notice to reopen after lockdown measures are lifted, explaining that the reopening process for the pub trade will be “enormously hard”.
Across Europe, a range of approaches to social distancing in pubs and bars are being suggested – and, in some places, are already in action.
Restaurants and bars have been allowed to stay open provided they adhere to social distancing rules, offering only table service and spacing groups one to two metres apart to prevent overcrowding. It’s also been evident that those failing to enforce these rules will be forced to close.
In Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, Mayor Remigijus Šimašius has permitted bar and restaurant owners to transform the historic city’s outdoor plazas, squares and streets into outdoor drinking and dining space in order to allow their businesses to serve guests observing social distancing rules.
Sales from pub windows have been allowed to continue whilst the country is in lockdown, with the plan for outside pubs, gardens and restaurant terraces to reopen mid May followed my inside spaces opening two weeks later with the instruction that they must follow strict social distancing measures.
Restaurants will be allowed to reopen from 15 May if they adhere to rules including a maximum of four adults per table – with at least 1m distance between diners – with service staff required to wear masks while taking orders and serving. Guests will also be advised to book tables in advance to avoid queues and make it easier to trace possible infection chains should the need arise.
Though measures closer to home are yet to be confirmed, noises from UK bar groups and operators have ranged from JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin stating that he hopes to open his near-900-strong stable of pubs in June, to the likes of East Anglia-based group Chestnut, which outlined it will be taking reservations across its 11-strong business from July 1.
Guidance from US-based design and strategy firm Streetsense, which specialises in retail, restaurant, hospitality and real estate solutions, advises that bar and dining areas must be reconfigured to accommodate for social distancing – “dramatically increasing the space between groups”.
The firm suggests that implementing social distancing policies may yield a 30-50% reduction in covers for weeks, perhaps months, and that operators should consider using an off-site storage facility to keep their venue clutter-free while measures are in place.
Whilst bars and restaurants all over the world are naturally keen to quickly resume some sort of service, it’s also apparent that it will be a while before we see the familiar crowds at the bar or bustling restaurants we’ve come to know.
Taken from the #UnitedWeStand campaign, an editorial initiative from leading industry media titles BigHospitality, Restaurant Magazine and The Morning Advertiser and supported by experts and key figures from the industry. The campaign will educate and support the sector on advice, insights and breaking news to help navigate the Coronavirus crisis. Click here to view this article in full on The Morning Advertiser.