Publicans have shared their strategies for encouraging customer confidence with The Morning Advertiser (MA), ahead of pubs reopening from Saturday 4 July after three months of closure due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published guidance on how to keep customers and staff safe in a 43-page document titled Keeping workers and customers safe during Covid-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.
Operators are working hard to reopen pubs safely and ensure customers feel safe to spend time in their venues.
Kay Chandler, the White Hart, Fyfield, Oxfordshire
"I think that if we can show customers that we fully understand the risks, are taking them seriously and have done everything possible to minimise them, then they will feel reassured.
"We will communicate this by social media, email newsletters and during the booking process. We are carrying out deep cleaning, staff training, risk assessments, implementing one-way systems, removing all unnecessary items, ordering personal protective equipment (PPE), installing sanitising stations, putting down socially distanced floor markers and adding beautiful wooden screens to the restaurant, so guests can feel secure in their own space.
.@the_whitehart has sent us this video of their new wooden screens ahead of the pub reopening next month. What has your pub introduced to protect customer and staff safety?#ukpubspic.twitter.com/pSkh6JmquR— Morning Advertiser (@morningad) June 29, 2020
"We are also having some fresh air dining rooms built outside, complete with fire pits, so customers can enjoy al fresco dining even when it gets chilly.
"It is also really important for us to make sure that our guests still have a wonderful five-star experience, so we will be working extra hard to give that special service, as well as making them feel safe – we have even designed a little box of fudge with a recipe as a thank you gift for everyone who joins us."
Laura Lythall, the Ship Inn, Isle of Dogs, London
"We will be doing table service and most likely contactless ordering through an online app along with the many other precautions such as one way systems, extra due diligence on cleaning regimes, PPE provided for our team, contactless sanitiser dispense at the entrance and exit and table bookings as well as a good amount of guidance signage.
"Our table layout will change of course and we have chosen to have no seats at the bar rather than a huge plastic screen in place, although we will have a screen at our till point this will be mostly for take away orders which we plan to continue doing for the foreseeable future and as our pizza kitchen is an open kitchen this will also be walled off. Other than these small changes not much will change in regards to the building.
"We're feeling positive about the reopening and have received some encouraging feedback from our customers who are looking forward to being able to enjoy the atmosphere of the pub again. All of our team have undergone Covid-19 specific health and safety and hygiene training and we are opting in to the AA-Covid confident scheme to hopefully give further confidence to our customers on their return as well as our team members."
Samantha Norris, the White Lion Weston, Crewe, Cheshire
"We have different entrances for the bar, restaurant and hotel, all following a one way system to a different door for all guests to exist.
"We have introduced an outside bar area and are putting up small marquees to cope with the British weather – we are hoping that drinkers will stay outside.
"We have had banners created to inform guests to stop, sanitise and check in on Facebook if they haven’t booked in. This is for track and trace reasons and the best we can do to try and police it, without spending a fortune on staff wages recording everyone.
"We have created individual envelopes to hand out to diners, which include cutlery, salt, pepper, napkin and sanitiser wipe for dining guests.
"If I am being honest, this is a really tough time and I would prefer customers who are anxious coming to the pub to stay away. The last thing we need is criticism of how we are trying to navigate a way through a very difficult situation.
"We have spent a fortune on PPE and have a dedicated outside company working on new measures and risk assessments for our industry under the new guidance. It is the customer’s choice to enter and they are told on the way in how to behave, to keep us all safe. If they don’t agree, please go home."
Joseph Tansley, Bell and Cross, Clent, Worcestershire
"We are opening on 4 July (ironically our second birthday) but we will be opening just outside until August, to control the footfall and keep everything consistent.
"We have implemented QR code technology, contact free ordering and temporary booths around the garden to allow extra covers to run concurrently with our takeaway offering.
"Part of what attracted me to The Bell and Cross was the romance of the small rooms and intimate dining spaces which now slightly works against us. So having the social distancing measures decreased will really help us if to open the inside of The Bell and Cross.
"I want to get my team ‘family’ back to work as soon as is safe to do so. From speaking to customers new and old there is a huge amount of support - excitement is definitely the overriding feeling."