A taste of hospitality in England

23 July 2020

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Restrictions on restaurants and pubs were relaxed in England on Saturday, July 4th. Ryan Pratt, Associate Director with our Retail & Leisure Agency, was on a short break there at the time and he reports here on his experience at establishments in Devon.

Following weeks of being stuck within the same four walls, my wife, our two boys and I decided to book a week away. We had originally booked in Tenby, only for the hotel to cancel so we headed to Devon, which happened to coincide with the easing of restrictions in bars and restaurants.

My wife was a little nervous about dining out, but I couldn’t wait! We ventured out to eat in a range of establishments, from bigger chains like Loungers to independent pubs and restaurants in Topsham and Exeter. What would it be like, we wondered?

I’m pleased to report that we had an incredibly positive experience at each venue. The resounding conclusion was that It was clear all the places we visited had worked incredibly hard on their procedures and training and deserved to be commended.

Just as everyone visiting bars and restaurants has a new-found responsibility to adhere to the rules of distancing, using hand gel, etc, it’s up to the restaurants and bars themselves to make it work as a second, large-scale lockdown could be terminal for many.

These are just some of the measures we saw being taken:

  • Having to book in advance to secure tables
  • Filling in track and trace information i.e. providing contact information
  • Ordering and paying via an app (I’d recommend anyone to consider setting up an Apple Pay facility as the contactless element of payment is not restricted)
  • Cutlery brought to tables in sealed paper packets
  • Distanced tables
  • Staff wearing PPE, screens at bar payments points, ample antibacterial gel stations
  • One-way systems for circulating restaurants
  • Screens dividing tables
  • Cleaning-down procedures between customers, using antibacterial sprays on the tabletops, the table legs and chairs.

The above list is far from exhaustive but provides a real idea of how seriously safety is being taken. I came back from the trip feeling refreshed from the change of scenery and impressed by how well the new rules have been implemented.

In Wales, pubs and restaurants have had to wait longer to even open outdoors, but based on my experience and how well it seems to be working there, I think we could have allowed indoor and outdoor opening at the same time as in England.

There will always be idiots who flout the rules and the media will be quick to highlight those incidents, which can make a problem seem worse than it is. But it is the same with everything in life. It would be nice if the Welsh Government had shown the same faith in the Welsh public and the Leisure and Hospitality industry as has been afforded to those in England, especially as this sector is suffering so much.  

 Restrictions on indoor opening in Wales are due to be eased on 3rd August.