Lifting lockdown: How are pubs preparing to re-open?
Pub gardens are set to re-open on April 12 under new lockdown guidelines. Unlike last time, there will be no food obligation or curfew.
It has been five months since hospitality businesses were allowed to operate. Some of them have used the spare time as an opportunity to make some upgrades.
Staff members at The Leather Bottle in Hertfordshire are now preparing to re-open. They’re adding outside heaters, umbrellas and shelters to make outdoor drinking more comfortable for guests.
Manager, Nicki Dennison feels that the government have done a “poor” job handling the pandemic. “I have literally worked for four months out of this last year. I’ve really had my dark days and sometimes I wonder if I am ever going to open again.”
Despite the low temperatures in April, sales are expected to boom on the opening week. Some venues were even taking bookings back in February – two months in advance.
Eager pub-goers have taken to Twitter to share their excitement for the big day, after months of limited social contact:
“People are dying to go out”, says Maurizio Ferraiuolo, Managing Director at Experts in Hospitality. “[Businesses] are getting ready to have extra manpower, especially in the first month with spring and summer coming.”
Mr Ferraiuolo predicts that the industry will bounce back. “Cheaper” properties and “better” deals have resulted in a large number of newcomers arriving in the market.
Pub chain, J D Wetherspoon taking advantage of it too. The Guardian revealed that they are looking to buy more property due to a drop in prices caused by the pandemic.
It may be legal to go out for a pint – but will the public feel safe doing so? A poll by The Royal Society for Public Health revealed that just 26% of the public did last year.
To minimise the spread of Covid-19, social distancing will remain in place with a strict table service policy. This means that customers will remain seated at all times, and the rule of six will also apply.
For some people, the return of hospitality causes them to feel social anxiety. According to our Instagram poll, 15% of people said they felt worried about it, whilst the remaining 85% were excited.
“Although it will be lovely to see friends and family again, I feel like there will be more pressure to go out when you might not want to”, says Linda Farrell*, 40 from Hemel Hempstead. “I’ve got quite comfortable staying in my own space, so it will be really hard to adjust to.”
Twitter users have also shared their concerns over things going back to normal: