England’s lockdown easing plans: What does this mean for the hospitality industry?

Small Business Advice 24 June 2020
Minimal Restaurant Table

Yesterday, (23th July 2020) the Prime Minister set forth plans to bring England out of lockdown, stating Scotland and Wales will be free to take their own decisions on easing measures. 

In his latest speech in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson exclaimed “our long, national hibernation is coming to an end” and “life is returning to our streets”. This shift back out of our homes and into public spaces will change dramatically with the reopening of restaurants, pubs and hairdressers, from Saturday 4th July.

So what changes will impact trading for restaurants and pubs?

Two metre rule reduced

Boris acknowledged that the two metre social distancing rule makes life impossible for a large part of our economy, and “it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry from trading.” So what is the alternative, and how does it help restaurants to open?

The ‘one metre plus’ rule will allow smaller local restaurants to open their doors to more people and ease with the process of serving and seating.

What can your restaurant do to meet one metre requirements? 

  • Rearrange seating areas so where possible there is one metre plus between diners 
  • If your restaurant is small, remove some seating to allow for a safe distance between staff and customers 
  • Remove all decorative and non-essential soft furnishings
  • Allow as much room as possible in between seating for serving staff to keep a safe distance 
  • Avoid face-to-face seating where possible, to minimise the risk of transmission
  • Consider sensor technology that alerts customers or staff when they are breaching the distance 
  • Use floor tape to guide staff and customers into a one-way system

All indoor hospitality limited to table service

The government’s guidelines state that all indoor restaurants and pubs should only operate with table service, and where possible operate with reduced staff and customers. 

How can your restaurant introduce a safe table service system?

  • Use app technology to allow customers to order from their table without speaking to a server
  • Consider online pre-order forms for tables to order their drinks and food before they arrive 
  • Use safe designated collection stations where customers can pick up their drinks/orders without using a server directly
  • Where table service interaction is necessary, ensure all servers wear protective face coverings 
  • If your restaurant requires servers and diners to interact frequently, ensure there is sufficient ventilation and air circulation
  • Clean tables frequently and thoroughly between diners

Restaurant owners required to provide customer data for Test and Trace

As in other countries across Europe, business owners will be required to collect customers’ data. This means, in the event of a local outbreak, the government can use customer IDs to  isolate specific people with Test and Trace to contain the spread. 

Johnson said he will be working alongside the industry to ‘make this manageable’. In the meantime, business owners will need to carefully consider the way they collect, communicate and store their diners’ data, in accordance with GDPR laws.   

Ways to collect data:

  • Online: when booking a table, collect all the necessary information about the customer needed for the government. 
  • Before entering or leaving the premises: Before customers enter or leave they should fill out a form with all their personal details
  • On an app: If your restaurant is already operating with app technology, add a new feature asking customers to fill out their details before ordering

Maintaining high standards of cleanliness when preparing food

As well as making the essential safety checks for COVID-19, restaurants that have been closed for a long period of time will need to implement extra basic hygiene and health and safety checks. Some of these will include:

  • Checking vigilantly for any pest activity that could have occurred while you were closed
  • Carry out a full site assessment inspecting whether you will need to undertake a full professional clean 
  • Check that all cleaning equipment is still in working order and date. Replacing and stocking up to meet increased cleaning demands

Download a full checklist from the Food Standards Agency here.  Additionally you can read our guidance on how to prepare and deliver food safely during COVID-19. Or, if you’re looking for more advice specifically for pubs, see our latest blog post for tips on how to reopen.

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