The Government has finally given the go-ahead for pubs and other hospitality businesses to reopen from 4 July 2020.
In what has been incredibly difficult time for the sector, this is welcome and long overdue news for all operators of pubs and bars in England
For those who wish to reopen from 4 July, it is important to read the Government’s guidance for keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in full. Find the full guide here. It’s a simple document, written in plain English. The key is to have a detailed risk assessment which is tailored to your premises and possible to implement. For companies of over 50 employees, this assessment will need to be on the website, so make it a marketing tool.
Largely, the Government has said what has to be achieved, rather than how, so here are some points to think about now:
- Contact details for all patrons will have to be kept for 21 days to tie in with NHS Track and Trace measures. Further guidance is awaited but consider now how this will be done. Do you have an app or online booking system? Will there have to be staff at the door with a tablet or similar device? You will not want patrons to either write or type their own details for risk of infection. You should resist the temptation to use this data for marketing purposes as this could be in breach of GDPR.
- Numbers of patrons will need to be controlled to ensure social distancing is maintained. Will you require pre-bookings? If not, think now about door supervisors or a method by which staff can track numbers. If patrons will be allowed to stand outside, how will this be supervised? Signage and reminders from staff or markings on the ground? You do not want to have to call the police or close because a venue becomes overwhelmed.
- How are customers going to be served drinks? Would it be sensible to set up temporary service bars? How will any queue be managed? Where possible, service should be by way of table service.
- Whilst we wait to see what is going to happen about off-sales and tables and chairs licences, identify outside areas now which could potentially be used and have some plans drawn up in anticipation of a potential national deregulation.
- Make sure there are contingencies if the weather turns nasty to ensure that patrons will not move into areas already at capacity. Buy umbrellas now and consider outdoor heaters. Some councils, such as Liverpool City Council, are offering grants to purchase furniture.
- If you have a large beer garden, do you need to hire portable toilets to avoid queues?
- Make sure children’s play areas remain closed.
- Start thinking about staff training, especially in dealing with conflicts. After a few drinks, some people do not like being told they can’t hug.
Whilst a burden, a well-run COVID-19 safe venue will win and retain custom. Those who give the guidance no thought will potentially alienate staff and customers — the latter not just because they worry for their safety, but also because the comfort and service provided is unduly impaired.
If you are an operator and would like to discuss the Government’s guidance, please contact Niall McCann or Richard Williams.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.