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Coronavirus: How are pubs keeping customers safe?
Ever since the lockdown was put in place back in March, cafes, bars, and pubs in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, have remained closed. However, at the moment, pubs, hotels, and restaurants in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland that serve food can reopen indoors. From 13th July, restaurants and pubs in Wales were allowed to reopen outdoors, and have been advised to reopen indoors from 3rd August.

Is It Safe to Visit the Pub?

England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland have issued guidance on measures that such establishments should take in order to keep both employees and customers safe. These measures include:
  • The staff thoroughly washing their hands before handling any cutlery and plates
  • Offering the option to order food online and via apps
  • Keeping the music at a low volume to avoid people having to shout as this raises the risk of transmission
  • People planning to visit the pub should be required to book tables in advance
  • Restrictions on live gigs and standing at the bar
  • Limited access to toilets
In the meantime, the Wetherspoons pub chain has declared it will provide its staff with face masks and protective gear and also provide a reduced food menu. Instead of bottles of mayonnaise and ketchup, they will offer sachets. Customers will also be directed to sit outdoors in beer garden Shoreditch and various indoor eating areas will be divided by plastic screens. England and Northern Ireland have reduced their social distancing requirements from 2m (6ft) to 1m. Restrictions still apply in both countries. By taking the required measures, indoor cafes, restaurants, cafes, and pubs in Scotland are allowed to apply for exemption from the 2m distancing requirement.

Does One Have to Provide Contact Details if They Eat Out?

Bars and restaurants have been provided with instructions from UK pub and hospitality bodies on how to handle contact tracing and they include:
  • Obtaining the contact details of one person in a group
  • These contact details should be kept for 21 days
  • Customers should only provide their names and phone numbers. Owners are required to note the time that they arrive and how long they remain at the premises.
  • Data can be recorded in various ways including paper, phone records, or online
  • While customers are allowed not to give out their information, the owners can choose not to serve them

Will a Restaurant or Pub Be Forced to Close Down if a Customer Tests Positive?

While it is possible, it's not always the case. According to official documents, a NHS Test and Test call won't always result in the closure of a pub or restaurant. However, it will all depend on the specific circumstances and when the infected person visited the establishment. The staff might ask by the NHS Test and Trace to:
  • get tested for the coronavirus
  • be extra cautious with social distancing
  • self-isolate if need be
Remember that the local health official has the mandate to close down establishments. Some pubs in England which reopened on the 4th of July have been closed down after some customers were tested positive.
  • Pubs are closed down after customers test positive
  • The second pub in town that has been forced to close down
In case you are personally contacted by the NHS Test and Trace, carefully follow the instructions provided and be ready to self-isolate for two weeks.

How Has the Hospitality Sector Been Coping With the Lockdown?

It is worth noting that in 2018, the hospitality sector was that third-largest employer in the nation. However, a lot of cafes and restaurants had been struggling for a while before the COVID-19 pandemic. This was attributed to the rising rents and decreasing consumer spending. Under the government's job retention scheme, thousands of workers have been furloughed in the industry. This means that the workers will receive 80% of their monthly salary but up to £2,500. The British Beer and Pub Association, the body that represents the bar industry stated it was welcome to the idea of opening up pubs, but urged customers and the support staff to make sure that everyone will be able to safely return to clubs and events and nights out.