Since the Covid-19 pandemic brought about the temporary lockdown across the UK since 20 March, we’ve seen closure of our pubs, bars and restaurants for several months. With the UK government’s phased approach of easing lockdown restrictions slowly unfolding, the announcement came that hospitality businesses could see themselves trading again from 4 July in England at the earliest, dependent on the R number and the rate of infections. As reopening dates vary slightly in other parts of the UK, venues in Scotland are looking at reopening on 15 July and Northern Ireland on 3 July. The Welsh government is still yet to propose a date.
Without a concrete opening date, many publicans, restaurant owners, brewers and food suppliers are having to take a huge financial risk preparing for the potential reopening dates in July, in the knowledge that timings could be pushed back.
Hospitality venue owners already in financial crisis now need to make the necessary decisions, investments and plans to bring their staff back from furlough and prepare to meet the stringent health and safety guidelines set in place, to protect their employees and customers from spreading the virus
Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with the regulations, supported by police. With this said, here are nine vital pieces of advice to consider, helping to ensure a successful and safe return for hospitality businesses over the coming weeks and months.
Step 1: Closely monitor government guidelines
Stay aware of all government updates and do not reopen any premises until you feel confident that it is safe for both your staff and your customers. Closely monitor official advice and make your decisions accordingly.
Step 2: Install social distancing floor stickers
When the doors of your hospitality venue can once again be opened to customers, you’ll need to keep some strict social distancing rules in place. Floor stickers are a great way to draw people’s attention and explain visually where they are safe to stand whilst in your pub or restaurant and queuing to enter through your doors.
Step 3: Limit the number of people in the venue
You should also restrict the number of people who can be in your venue at any given time. Take similar measures to supermarkets and other food retailers and implement a one-in one-out system to avoid crowding. To cope with large volumes of customers queuing outside your premises, consider putting barriers and security officers in place, to help safely manage and monitor queues.
Step 4: Offer condiments and cutlery in a different way
Condiments and cutlery will need to be presented in a slightly different way. Supply salt, pepper, sauces and other condiments to customers in individually wrapped packets and sachets for single use. By no longer allowing condiments to be shared between tables, customers will lessen the level of contact they have with each other. In a similar fashion, provide cutlery simultaneously with plates of food to limit the amount of time they are left sitting on tables and other surfaces.
Step 5: Provide your staff with PPE equipment if appropriate
To ensure an extra level of health and safety, provide your employees with PPE equipment such as gloves and face masks. Simple fabric face masks will be better than nothing if you have any difficulty sourcing official PPE.
Step 6: Make hand sanitisers available and other cleanliness reminders
Make sure that you have plenty of hygiene resources placed around your venue, available to your customers and staff members. You could also put up health and safety advice posters for extra reminders.
Step 7: Only accept contactless payments
Another thing that many pubs, bars and restaurants are changing is how they take payments. Only taking contactless payments is a good way to minimise contact and maintain social distancing between your staff and customers. If you haven’t already, be sure to get a contactless payment system up and running.
Step 8: Consider who is essential to be on your premises
In the UK government’s official guidance (published on the 11 May), it was stated that all businesses should carefully consider who is essential to be working inside their premises. If you have staff who work behind the scenes, in administration or marketing roles, don’t encourage them to return to your venue unless you feel it is essential.
Step 9: Protecting people who are at higher risk
In addition, any employees who are deemed ‘high risk’ should not return to your venue as soon as it opens. If you are short-staffed, look into your recruitment options or project your need for low-risk staff members in your marketing efforts.
Going above and beyond for your staff and customers is of the utmost importance, and if this is conducted smoothly, pubs, bars and restaurants can continue working towards remaining Covid-secure after they reopen.
In relation to the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurant, Gary Peeling, CEO at Where The Trade Buys, a print company who have created many new health and safety products to enable a safe return to public spaces, said: “With shared spaces gradually reopening, businesses in the hospitality sector will require numerous health and safety products to ensure the safeguarding of their staff, customers and suppliers. Before doors reopen, careful planning will be needed in order to keep the necessary protective equipment in place and to monitor health and safety measures for customers and employees.”
This article was researched by UK print company Where The Trade Buys, which is currently producing PPE for UK hospitality venues, retail stores, workplaces, education spaces, charity shops, the NHS and more. The company has also been involved in manufacturing face visors for NHS essential workers in the fight against Covid-19.