A sector that has faced some of the most significant challenges due to the coronavirus crisis is the hospitality industry. Since closures began in late March, the sector is estimated to have lost millions (if not billions) of pounds.
But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as venues are set to reopen to the public on 4th July. However, pubs, bars and restauranteurs face yet more challenges as they try to make their establishments ‘COVID-secure’. Here we discuss some of the measures pubs are taking before they welcome back drinkers this weekend.
Apps, screens and full PPE
Wetherspoons, the UK’s largest pub chain, are attempting to set the gold standard for a COVID-secure drinking experience. After pooling suggestions from 2,500 staff, Britain’s biggest landlord has spared no expense making their pubs safe.
Measures include insisting that drinkers order via the Wetherspoons app, sanitiser stations, and single-use menus. They will also replace their usual condiment caddies with sauce sachets and place ‘do not move’ notices on socially distanced tables. They’ve also taken steps to change the interior architecture of their pubs by installing plastic screens at bars and creating labelled one-way systems.
Staff will also be required to wear gloves, masks, and protective eyewear and have their temperature taken daily. Meanwhile, two team members will be hired full-time to sanitise touch surfaces, like door handles and card payment machines. So far, so comprehensive.
How will smaller venues cope?
Of course, this level of preparation is all very well and good for the UK’s most profitable pub chain. Reports suggest that smaller, independent venues are finding meeting the requirements difficult, especially after losing all their business in the proceeding months. For instance, some pubs in listed buildings have reported conflicts with planning authorities over modifications like plastic screens. Equally, some bars are just too small to make social distancing or table service viable.
Instead of apps, PPE, and full-time sanitising staff, some venues will have to take a more homespun approach. Here, ventilation is key; as the government has re-iterated again and again, the virus spreads less quickly in well-ventilated spaces. With regular disinfecting and appropriate distance, independent pubs should have a better shot at keeping their customers safe.
Looking to the future
It’s clear that we are going to have to live alongside the virus for some time. Although this presents significant challenges for bars and restaurants, they will have no choice but to adapt. Considering the road ahead, it seems it will take both ingenuity and investment to make our pubs safe.