Calls for table service to be scrapped for spring reopening

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Reopening rules: pubgoers should be allowed to order at the bar when pubs open indoors in May, according to trade body UKHospitality (image: Getty/Karandev)
Reopening rules: pubgoers should be allowed to order at the bar when pubs open indoors in May, according to trade body UKHospitality (image: Getty/Karandev)

Related tags: lockdown, Table service, Beer, coronavirus, Wet-led pubs

UKHospitality (UKH) has called for an end to table service rules when pubs are allowed to reopen this spring.

Customers should be allowed to order via a hatch or outdoor till when beer gardens reopen in April, the trade association urged.

Pubgoers would still drink while seated, in line with the rules for coffee shops and cafes where queuing at an order-point is allowed.

What’s more, customers should be able to order at the bar again when indoor trade is allowed to resume in May, UKH said.

This would emulate the reopening rules of July 2020, when pubs reopened after the first national lockdown.

Customers should also be allowed to consume drinks while standing when outdoors from May.

These changes would help to cut down on costs and boost capacity but would still see health and safety considerations carefully monitored by operators, UKH said.

Strangled by restrictions 

“Hospitality can lead economic recovery in the UK,” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said, “providing jobs to people who have lost them and continuing to serve those most in need in communities all over the country.” 

“To do this however, we need to be able to operate without being strangled by restrictions,” Nicholls added.

Operator Gav Young, who runs the Plough and Barleycorn, Isle of Wight, said table service was “putting the hostility in hospitality,” in an opinion column for The Morning Advertiser (MA)​.

“We are still not trusted to stand with a pint because, as the experts know, we are incapable of standing with an alcoholic beverage in hand without launching into mass displays of affection,” Young wrote.

He added: “There is no science to support table service-only, no reasoning whatsoever. 

“The very venues the press display when speaking of ‘traditional British pubs’ are largely unviable with mandatory table service. The ability for one to remain vertical used to be one of the primary demonstrations of sobriety in order to obtain service now it is borderline criminal.”

Operators have described their frustration at the policy to The MA ​on social media and said it increases staff costs. 

Related topics: Legislation

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