The Morning Advertiser readers voiced their opposition to suggestions from a minority that the Government should consider changing rules on smoking in pub gardens while many readers also said further regulations would devastate the trade.
It comes as an MP called on the Government to consider adapting regulations so that there must be non-smoking and smoking areas in gardens. Currently, smoking is permitted in pub gardens.
UKH’s Kate Nicholls echoed the views of many operators and said the trade would use common sense to protect customers’ safety.
She said: “Catering for smokers with social distancing in place will need a common-sense approach, as will a lot of aspects of operating once businesses reopen.
“Staff will need to be briefed and customers advised so that outdoor areas are managed properly. This may take the form of signage or verbal instructions to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.”
Conservative MP for The Wrekin in Shropshire Mark Pritchard wrote to the Department of Health asking for it to look at the risks of secondary smoke in pub gardens.
As pubs gear up for a potential reopening date of 4 July, many are looking to implement social distancing in an outside space as the first port of call because this limits the risk of coronavirus infection spreading.
The MP told local newspaper The Shropshire Star: “This is about non-smoking customers being able to sit outside cafés and pubs without having to run the gauntlet of secondary smoke from smokers, especially the elderly and families with young children.
“Why should non-smokers be forced to breathe in other people’s smoke because Covid-19 forces more people to eat outside?”
The MA readers broadly agreed additional regulations would hinder the trade, which is already likely to struggle under the weight of social distance considerations and blunted consumer confidence when reopening.
One said on Facebook: “[Restrictions to smokers] would cause huge problems for the pub trade. It’s already hard enough to keep the smokers coming to the pub in the colder months, at least now we can adapt our gardens to make them feel comfortable and welcome.”
Another expressed doubt that it would be possible for pubs to police a division of smoking and non-smoking areas, especially ones with limited outside space.
We have lots of smoke free areas that are virtually outside including the Coachway and the Stables which have fully openable doors. All of the inside is non-smoking. I don’t think it’s possible or fair to make parts of the garden - only 12 tables - non-smoking too.— MitreGary (@mitrebarnet) May 19, 2020
However, some were more considerate of there being some or total restrictions to smoking outside, citing public health concerns.
A good proportion of our customers are smokers and we have no way of sectioning off our pavement drinking into non smokers and smokers. However as an ex smoker I would support an outright ban. It seems unbelievable that people used to smoke in pubs so why not ban it outside too?— The Coach & Horses (@Coach_horsesw1) May 19, 2020
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