PUB landlords and restaurant owners have welcomed the news that they can re-open their businesses to sit-in customers from July 4.
An easing of social distancing rules has made it possible for many pubs and restaurants to soon welcome customers inside for the first time in months – and now there’s just under two weeks to get everything ready.
The new “one-metre plus” rule allows people to be closer together in areas where staying two metres apart isn’t possible, as long as they take steps to decrease the risk of transmission, such as wearing face masks.
Bill and Gail Daley, who have been owners of the Crown in Cirencester for 29 years, said the uncertainty made it a difficult time for everyone.
They said: “It has been a very worrying time business wise. We are leaseholders of the business and the freehold is owned by Arkell’s who have been extremely supportive to us so that has been something that has been hugely appreciated.
“We are delighted that the announcement has been made, and we are in the process of making guideline adjustments to the service and we very much look forward to welcoming customers back.
“We will be doing sanitised deep cleans, and we will have some screens fitted around our bar and food service area.
“We’re removing and storing some of our tables to enable us to implement the correct distancing, and we will be having a one way system through the pub.
“People can be reassured that we will do everything from our side of things – we’re having to take names of all our customers, and we will be putting in a monitoring system of how many customers we have in.
“Customers can also ring and pre book a space. Our staff will be wearing PPE and customers can wear one if they want.”
Mark Lindesay, landlord of The Golden Cross in Cirencester, says he hopes to see the return of regulars.
“I know, having spoken to a lot of regulars, there are some who are of course hesitant to return at the moment and there are also people who are keen to return,” said Mark.
“So we will welcome those who are keen to be here, but we of course understand those who would prefer to continue shielding.”
The Upton Firehouse, a family barbecue and grill restaurant, near Burford, plans to reopen on July 8 but with a new format, due to the regulations.
Gone is the self-service carvery buffet style due to social distancing and the single use tongs, and in comes a set menu.
“We have, like so many, thought about how we can adapt,” said Firehouse owner Jak Doggett.
“The drop in distance has saved businesses like ours and we will set up our tables accordingly.
“We have fitted new automatic hand sanitizer dispensers on every door and we are quite lucky in the fact we have such a large restaurant so social distancing is possible, we have however a large outdoor seating area which we will be using when there weather is good.”
Lockdown forced Arkell’s Brewery to close its pubs for the first time in 177 years. The family that oversees several Cotswold and North Wiltshire taverns from its Stratton base saw turnover plummet by 90 per cent as most staff were put on furlough, with a skeleton crew keeping the home delivery service going.
The brewery sent gallons of leftover booze away to be turned into hand sanitiser and did its best to support struggling licensees around the town.
But now there’s light at the end of the tunnel as this week Arkell’s began brewing 30,000 pints of beer in preparation.
Managing director George Arkell estimates that the company could safely service 75 per cent of its customers after the two-metre rule on social distancing was relaxed to “one-metre plus”.
He added: “There are lots of challenges ahead but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Now that shops have reopened, people are getting used to a new normal and understand the importance of staying at a safe distance and using hand sanitiser, so they are ready to return to pubs too.
“People have really missed going to the pub and having a chat with friends or a nice meal and they want to come back.
“Everyone will have to make their own call, though I think they want to at least have the option of going out.
“We need to look after ourselves and be careful, but we also need to get on with life and get the economy moving again.”