Bars, pubs and restaurants across the UK started to reopen post-lockdown on Saturday 4th July 2020, with the government’s new COVID-19 guidelines in place. These are meant to keep workers and customers safe whilst allowing venues to get back to business and are being strictly enforced. However, what can we do as punters to help our favourite spots keep us safe and support them as they open their doors? We’ve come up with a short list of helpful suggestions and guidelines to follow.
A Mixed Bag
For a lot of us, 4th July – or ‘Super Saturday’ as the tabloids dubbed it in some kind of weird Americanised Black-Friday-esque move – came with mixed feelings. With the UK barely over the hump with COVID-19 rates, 52% of the surveyed public believe that venues have reopened too early, with 73% excepting a second outbreak this year. On the other hand, thousands of independent businesses and millions of jobs would be placed at risk with further delays, and many of us are longing for a trepid return to some kind of normalcy (even if that is only in the form of a pulled pint from our local).
The weekend came about and unsurprisingly saw a good deal of mixed reviews, from a bottleneck of mask-less revellers on Old Compton Street making it “crystal clear” to police that drunk people can’t be trusted to socially distance, to venues with bookings and strict policies reporting a happily relaxed and welcome return.
Thankfully, the government’s guidelines for reopening pubs, bars and restaurants are detailed, with staff trained to uphold them to the letter. However, it does not only fall on the venues’ shoulders and it is imperative that would-be patrons do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, be courteous and conscientious, and take precautions to keep not only themselves but also the serving staff safe.
So, what can we do? Essentially…
Don’t be a Dick
Here are a few ways in which customers can support pubs, bars and restaurants and help to try and ensure the safety of all.
Listen to the staff
There is a lot of change going on and the staff know what’s up. This may be different from venue to venue so listen attentively and do what they say. This may include using hand sanitiser when entering, wearing masks when ordering, not leaving your table unless you really need to, not touching doors, not approaching the bar, not moving chairs around etc. They’re not trying to spoil your night out, they’re trying to keep everyone safe and happy.
Your servers are working very hard to implement the new rules. These include table service, which means added time, added movement and more contact with people. Be patient and understanding, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember, this is all new to them too and they’re putting themselves at greater risk than you, so don’t be rude. Also, if they’re doing a good job, thank them and be sure to tip!
Book ahead of time
Many venues are taking bookings. This will allow them to control the newly limited amounts of people in the spaces and make sure they have enough staff. Familiarise yourself with your choices’ booking requests and book ahead of time to prevent disappointment and blocking up doorways with queues.
No-shows have always been a problem for restaurants and bars. Not turning up or not cancelling your reservation costs venues money. Doing this now in the midst of a pandemic where many are struggling to get back onto their feet, is a downright dick move. It literally (LITERALLY) puts people’s jobs and businesses more at risk. If you are suddenly not comfortable making your booking, develop symptoms of COVID, or just don’t feel like going out anymore, please, please, please cancel that reservation as soon as you are able to. Even a last minute cancellation will free up a space that can be filled and prevent staff from holding a table for you.
Support Small Businesses
We’d say “we’re not in the habit of telling people where to go”, but that is literally our job, so screw it. Whilst we understand that many people are partial to the odd chain or two, this lockdown period has been especially hard on small businesses and independently-owned venues. Unlike the Goliath Wetherspoons – that has secured a whopping £48.3 million loan, part of which it is using to undercut market prices to lure customers to it – a huge number of independent bars are on the brink of closure and need our support to keep their dreams afloat. Please consider foregoing the giants in favour of your local spot that really needs your help and keeps our UK hospitality scene diverse, interesting & full of soul.
Tip & Purchase in-house
If you’ve enjoyed yourself, consider tipping generously. A lot staff have been on furlough or without an income for months. Show your appreciation for their work and the venue. It will really make a difference. Many venues also pivoted during lockdown to create pre-batched cocktails that you can enjoy at home, and push our gift vouchers. Consider supporting them by purchasing these directly from them for yourself or friends.
If you would like to familiarise yourself with the safety and social distancing practices that will be in-place at venues, you can find them here on the government’s website.