With a number of pubs reopening this Saturday, on what is now being dubbed as ‘Super Saturday’. A&E and police around the country are calling for a calm return to drinking, in anticipation of COVID-idiots getting drunk as soon as the bars open. The Government have been criticised for opening pubs on a weekend, especially July 4th, which is Independence Day. I thought I would speak to a few pubs, as well as chat to people who are returning to work behind the bar, ahead of tomorrow.
‘Super Saturday’ – celebrated now as Independence Day – is geared up to something like New Year. The media are hyping it as one big weekend party, to celebrate our opportunity to have a cold beer, meet friends and drink. Boris Johnson’s spokesman stated that the 6 am opening times for pubs and bars was to avoid landlords opening a few hours earlier at 12.01 am, holding all-night parties. However, the early time means that pubs could also open their doors all day if they so wish. It also is a signal that the bar is open this weekend.
Some independent pubs are not going to be opening, but many pub chains will be. Wetherspoons obviously signalling that they will be opening their doors to the public as soon as they could.
Government advice to pubs reopening from 4 July
Thousands of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers across England have been given practical, clear steps they can take to reopen safely over the coming weeks.
New Covid-19 secure guidance for the hospitality sector means that businesses will be able to reopen in England from 4 July, provided they meet government criteria for keeping staff and customers as safe as possible.
The new guidance sets out a range of measures for pubs and restaurants to become Covid-19 secure, including:
requiring use of table service where possible instead of ordering at the bar and assigning a single staff member per table
encouraging use of contactless ordering from tables where available, such as through an app
discouraging non-essential trips by staff within venues, such as between the kitchen and front of house, by using radios and other electronic devices to communicate
encouraging customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue
providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene as people arrive on the premises, with signage and visual aids
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
We know this pandemic has been particularly hard for people working in hairdressing and hospitality. Allowing pubs, restaurants and hairdressers to open will be another step in our plan to kickstart our economic recovery in a safe manner.
What are pubs going to look like?
Bars have had to retrain their staff, as well as create new job roles. You won’t be able to congregate at the bar anymore.
Most bars now request that you order from an app. People will need to be seated at their designated areas, rather than queue at the bar.
Staff will also need to monitor social distancing, which I am sure won’t be fun after people have a few drinks! Just look at the parties going on in and around London and the rest of the UK these past few weeks.
How do bar staff feel about going back?
Given the fact that the hospitality industry was first to be hit by COVID-19. Many workers who have been furloughed have now been told that they need to return to work. Although some still are on furlough or have been made redundant.
I spoke to a Bar Manager who is due to go back on Super Saturday, who said that “the Industry is doing the best they can do. The downside is the General Public. Bar staff are being trained in social distancing, but the general public won’t necessarily do that. I don’t know what I am going to be walking into. It’s all good having preventative measures being put into place. It’s all well and good preparing for something, but when you are in the middle of the experience. What’s actually happens is different.”
I also asked another friend of mine Chelsea, how she feels about going back to work on Monday. “I’m nervous about starting back in the pub as the measurements in place are so strict, it’s not going to seem like the fun place of pre-COVID, but we will make it as best we can with our regulars to keep us all safe and it will be so good to see them, after all this time. I’m excited about having social connection again, and I’m hoping we can all adjust to the changes in a positive rather than a negative way. I’m sure we’ll all look out for each other”.
Tollington Arms, Islington – remain closed
I spoke to the Tollington Arms, which decided to remain closed despite being given the go-ahead from the Government to open. I am sure this has been no easy decision:
“After much deliberation and thought, we have decided not to follow the government’s advice and reopen on the 4th of July. We feel that the government is ignoring the scientific community’s prediction of a second wave and the risks far outweigh the rewards It’s been made very clear to us that any liability will fall directly at our feet. Poor guidelines and a lack of support have left us with no choice but to remain shut.” Regards Martin Whelan
Stoneygate – to open 4th July
A spokesperson for Stonegate/Ei said, “We will be opening the majority of our pubs and bars across England with a host of safe and social distancing measures. Our first priority is the wellbeing of our staff and additional training and safety measures have been put in place in line with the Government’s COVID-19 secure guidelines.
“Throughout our pubs and bars, we are implementing clear safe socialising measures, enhanced cleaning regimes and providing customers with the opportunity to order food and drink via a range of apps. Single-use menus, contactless payments and hand sanitiser stations complement the revised layout of our pubs and bars. Many of our pubs and bars have kept in touch with their communities through social media, staging charity fundraising for locals and the NHS, and are now looking forward to welcoming our customers back.”
“Within our leased and tenanted business our publicans are working behind the scenes in readiness to reopen their doors, ensuring social distancing and safety measures are implemented as they look forward to welcoming back customers to our pubs from their communities.
Customers are encouraged to book with their local pub in order to secure a seat as capacity in venues has been reduced and to keep an eye on social media sites as many are operating reduced hours. ”
Understandably people want to get out and party again. However, how sensible is everyone going to be this weekend?
Greene King pubs – to open Monday 7th July
Greene King, the UK’s leading managed pub company and brewer has unveiled details of how its pubs will look and operate ahead of the re-opening, including ‘Pub Safe’, a new set of five promises to its team and customers. Greene King pubs will open on Monday 7th July after Super Saturday.
All Greene King’s 1700 managed pubs will follow a new set of Pub Safe promises, designed to look after team members and ensure customers can socialise safely. The Pub Safe Promises scheme centres around hygiene and safety, while maintaining the atmosphere of the Great British pub, and includes the following five promises:
Safe socialising layout throughout our pubs
Looking after our team, so they can look after our customers
Hand sanitising and hygiene
Pub Safe Monitor
Underpinning each promise are detailed practical measures Greene King will introduce, alongside ways in which customers can enjoy the pub experience but keep themselves and those around them safe too.
New safe socialising layout in the pubs
A new safe socialising layout is being introduced in the pubs, with clear signage to direct customers through the pub. Tables will be spaced out further in-line with any government guidelines and customers will be encouraged to pre-book a table rather than stand at the bar. The bar service area will have perspex screens and screening will be positioned between booths where necessary. There will be new one-in-one-out red and green indicators at the entrances to the toilets so customers can flip the indicator with their elbow as they enter and exit, with toilets cleaned every 15 minutes.
Keep team members safe
As part of its commitment to keep team members safe Greene King has invested £15 million in Pub Safe related measures for a phased reopening, including protective measures for teams and customers. Teams are undergoing comprehensive training ahead of reopening and will be temperature checked ahead of every shift. Investment is also being made in additional team members to keep hygiene standards high.
Greene King is rolling out its Order and Pay app
As part of its pledge to minimise contact between team members and customers, Greene King is rolling out its Order and Pay app, ahead of schedule, to all its managed pubs. Customers will be encouraged to download it and place food and drink orders from the comfort of their table, paying contactless via the app. The pubs will provide one-time-use menus that customers can take away or be disposed of in a sustainable way at the pub, cutlery will be wrapped and condiments in sachets or in fresh ramekins.
A pub host will be on hand at the entrance of the pub to welcome each customer, show them to their table and manage queues. Customers will be asked to use the hand sanitiser stations at the entrance on arrival and utilise the many stations placed in key positions during their visit.
Every pub to have its Pub Safe Monitor
The fifth pledge by Greene King is that every pub will have its own dedicated Pub Safe Monitor, a team member, easily identifiable by their uniform, with the responsibility of ensuring that additional cleaning of tables and public space is done swiftly and efficiently. The monitor will also be the clear point of contact for any customer or team member who wishes to raise a concern.
In return for the Pub Safe promises Greene King is asking its customers to follow the safe socialising measures in place, respect its teams as they keep everyone safe, help minimise contact by using the Greene King app to order and pay, maintain personal hand hygiene whilst in the pub and let the Pub Safe Monitor know if they have any concerns.
Nick Mackenzie, Greene King Chief Executive Officer, said:
“We can’t wait to welcome our customers back to our pubs and we know people are eager to return to their local. The safety of our customers and team members is always our number one priority and against the backdrop of a slow recovery from COVID-19, we are investing to put in place all the necessary arrangements. Of course, customers will notice some differences when they return but it’s important that alongside implementing the changes, we maintain the very essence of the great British pub.”