Boris Johnson has told the country that “some” hospitality operations will be able to start to reopen from 4 July, perhaps even earlier, he’s hinted, but under austere restrictions.
And that’s the rub – what form are those restrictions likely to be, and how far reaching?
We’ve heard how a two-metre physical distance imposition will make operating all but impossible for many operators, and I would urge the Government to heed those calls and move to the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of one metre. It will still be tough, but it could make a big difference for a lot of operators.
Sadly, the concept of “social” distancing in a pub runs against everything the trade stands for and it’s going to be hard to see how pubs will be able to police it. That said, if there’s any trade more resourceful than the pub sector, I’d like to see it – and we have become experts at adapting and surviving whatever is thrown at us.
We have heard some amazing stories of pubs that have fought against the odds to continue to operate and, in some cases, even thrive. From London to Yorkshire and beyond, we’ve seen operators push hard to adapt their operations and rebuild their businesses back from the ground up to the point where they’ve even been able to re-employ staff, which is amazing.
Now, of course, the level of business is still nowhere near pre-coronavirus levels, but it’s a start and it’s also an inspiration to myself and I would argue all the trade. It’s a strong first step on that long road to recovery.
I would urge all operators to look to some of those examples, find ways to start the long, painful process of healing your businesses, serving your customers and helping to bring joy back to our bruised and battered communities.
Because, let’s not forget, pubs are vital parts of those communities – we are the bedrock of the economy, providing vital and substantial employment, tax collection and societal cohesion. But most importantly, we also bring joy – and that’s something we all need a little of right now.
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