Hospitality Reopens As Public “Brave The Elements”

Undeterred by the weather public returned to the hospitality sector after months of closure.

As the sector reopened today (Monday, 12 April) parts of England were hit with rain, sleet and snow showers, however the public were not discouraged with queues seen outside many venues.

Hardy English drinkers and diners shrugged off the bad weather to enjoy some badly missed hospitality as beer gardens celebrated what is being dubbed as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ with queues outside of bars and restaurants.

More than half of hospitality businesses that have reopened have heavily invested to make outdoor areas bigger, spending an average of £9,040 on each venue, according to industry group UKHospitality.

Pubs have been flooded with bookings, with the British Beer and Pub Association predicting the nation will get through 15million pints this week. Footfall specialists Springboard are expecting a near 50% uplift during the first week.

A restaurant in Lymington Forest has reported bookings right through until October!

Today’s outdoor reopening is the first stage of the roadmap to the end of lockdown, with just over five weeks to go until indoor service can be resumed, and, according to a survey by market analysts GGA there are signs that consumers are starting to feel bolder about being around other people in venues. A quarter (26%) of consumers now say they would prefer a busy or lively atmosphere when out, compared to just 15% in August 2020. The number wanting to meet in large groups has more than doubled since then, from 8% to 19%.

This research shows how all venues will have to walk a fine line between safety and experience when they reopen in April and May,” says Philip Montgomery, CGA’s director of client services UK & Ireland. “It is encouraging to see that consumers are increasingly confident about mixing in the On Premise, but rigorous hygiene protocols will still be needed to reassure those who remain cautious about COVID-19. On top of the crucial fundamentals like quality, price, range and service, this creates a very complex set of demands—but one that the sector is ready to meet.”

With the sector now reopen albeit with restrictions trade bodies have published a guide for the key rules that licensees need to know as they open their doors.

12 rules for 12 April

  1. Review your Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure that all relevant mitigations are in place and that staff are aware of their responsibilities.
  2. You must have an NHS QR Code poster accessible to all customers as well as an alternative method for recording customer contact details. Customers details must be collected, via the app or otherwise, before they place an order.
  3. All customers (16+) must provide their details for Test and Trace. You must take reasonable steps to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide false details. You do not have to check customers’ phones if they use the NHS app, but you should satisfy yourself they have done so (i.e. by asking customers if they have checked-in). This last point is yet to be confirmed in writing, but is expected soon.
  4. Customers are only allowed indoors to: walk to the outdoor area, use the toilet, baby change and breast feeding facilities or make payment at the bar as a last resort. Customers must wear face coverings indoors and not loiter or congregate.
  5. Staff must wear face coverings in indoor areas, unless they are separated from customers by a screen or similar. Face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors by staff or customers.
  6. Outdoor seating and tables should be reconfigured to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between groups of customers. Government have confirmed that social distancing applies between tables, not within groups sitting at tables.
  7. Customers must be seated at a table to order, be served and consume their food and/or drink in venues serving alcohol. Ideally payment should also be taken at table, however, as a last resort (and only if not possible outdoors) payment can be taken indoors.
  8. It is no longer the case that a substantial meal has to be ordered with alcohol.
  9. Groups must be a maximum of six people, but can number more than six, if comprised from only two households.
  10. Outdoor structures must follow the same rules as smoking shelters – 50% or more of the sides must be open – in order to be classed as “outdoors”.
  11. You can offer background music and television outside, if it is kept at a reasonable volume and shouting/singing/chanting is prevented. Incidental live music is permitted.
  12. Customers making takeaway purchases are exempt from both Test and Trace and the requirement to be seated while ordering, but their purchase must be consumed off-premise (including outside of adjacent areas).