In a chief’s executive’s announcement responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s confirmation that pubs will be able to reopen from July 4, Neame revealed the Faversham-based brewer and operator plans to reopen 40 managed pubs and at least 150 tenanted sites as soon as possible.
“In order to protect our customers and team members, we propose to reopen our managed estate on a phased basis and expect to reopen at least two thirds of our pubs by the end of July,” Neame’s statement explained.
“This will allow us to evaluate our approach and collect feedback and learnings throughout the process, to identify best practice.”
Neame’s comments follow the reveal of a phased rent proposal for Shepherd Neame licensees ahead of the anticipated reopening of pubs on 4 July.
The new temporary policy means licensees will get a 70% discount on their prevailing contractual rent, effective for four weeks from the date pubs can reopen.
Following this, licensees will get a 50% discount in month two, 40% discount in the third month and 30% reduction in month four.
To date, the operator has provided more than £2.5m of financial support through the cancellation of rent during the Covid-19 shutdown period.
Stating that planning was already well underway for the safe reopening of its sites, Neame revealed visitors to its pubs from 4 July could expect to see seated table service only, single entrance and exit points at pubs, physical screens introduced between seating in some managed pubs and single-use recyclable menus.
What’s more, customers will no longer be able to prop up the bar and will instead be asked to pre-book tables, check menus in advance, pay by card and regularly use sanitisation points.
In addition, staff will have their temperature checked by infrared thermometer before every shift, while new safety signage - including floor stickers to indicate social distancing requirements - will be introduced at all pubs to reassure and inform.
Shepherd Neame has also confirmed it will provide 3,000 locally sourced, washable, face masks for team members across its managed estate.
“We are grateful the Government has listened to our industry’s calls for a change in social distancing guidance from the 2-metre rule, and announced that it will introduce a ‘1-metre-plus’ approach, similar to that used in many countries across the world, with other mitigation measures in place,” Neame’s statement continued.
“This will make it more operationally and financially viable for us to begin reopening our pubs from 4 July.
“Our mission is clear: to protect our team members and reassure customers they are safe in our pubs, while still ensuring they enjoy an authentic and engaging experience in our distinctive and individual pub environments.
“We still need to review the detail of the Government guidance for our industry, but we have already begun our preparations for reopening.”