A message from Craig Lowery, our Operations Director:
Good morning; it has been a while since we posted an update. This is because the situation regarding how/when businesses like ours will reopen, and how we can take the steps to ensure we are able to reopen safely, changes on a daily basis.
First and foremost we will not even considering trying to operate until we are:
1. told by the relevant authorities it is safe to do so. (Earliest estimates are some could open in July)
2. comfortable that we can operate in a way that minimises the risk to our staff and customers
3. content that the required measures still mean we can operate in a manner that is financially viable.
We have been working hard behind the scenes. Ensuring that our great team were financially secure was our first priority and then ensuring we had the structures in place to fulfil our financial obligations towards our suppliers for the short and medium term. We have accomplished those and now we are focusing on the future.
We are working closely with various trade organisations to establish best practice. This is incredibly challenging and will lead to a huge change; indeed the chief executive of UK Hospitality quoted-“ by their nature, pubs are places you drop in for a drink; you won’t be able to do that anymore. For the foreseeable future, it’s going to be a seated experience, with no standing or going to the bar. It will be all about pre-booking spaces and using technology.”
It is still not even clear if under existing proposals it will be possible for most places to open. The British Beer and Pub Association says, “Under the current social distancing proposals, you’re probably only looking at 20% of sites being able to operate.”
We are however, determined to find a solution and some of the considerations at present are:
1. The government are proposing to amend the furlough scheme from July (currently employees are not permitted to work at all whilst on the scheme). At present we have not attempted takeaways or home deliveries because we did not want to risk our employees losing income. When the government announces the details, we will see if we can launch a takeaway and/or delivery service.
2. We are trying to formulate a comprehensive policy. Naturally; this will lead to big changes in how we operate. Some of these will probably involve-
- A one way system, one exit and one entry door
- Hand sanitizers throughout and of course more regular and enhanced cleaning procedures
- Capacity will be severely limited and tables will be operated on a pre booked basis. There will be 2 metres between all tables
- Limited menu(s) as well as maintaining social distancing for our guests and front of house staff. We also need to ensure the same in the kitchen. Therefore it is likely there will be fewer people per shift in the kitchen, which will mean we have a reduced capacity in terms of menu size and the number of people we can cater for at any one time.
- Set table times- for example this could be 12 tables booked at 12.00pm, 2.00pm, 6.00pm and 8.00pm
- Menus will be only online and all other items will be single use – salt and pepper, condiments and so on.
- We are currently looking at developing an app so customers would download the app, order food/drinks and pay via the app. It is probable that we will only operate/ take orders and payments through the app
- Staff to be provided with the appropriate equipment as deemed necessary; this could be face masks, gloves and/or protective screens.
- We are awaiting guidance on outdoor space. It could be that the garden is used for drinks and food. This would, however, still require social distancing and we would be required to somehow monitor that appropriate social distancing measures were being followed.
- It is likely that the bars would remain closed (but drinks could potentially be ordered through the app.) This is perhaps the most challenging area on how to maintain social distancing. Bars are a “social” setting by definition. The idea of going for a pint but sitting 2 metres apart from anyone needs some further consideration on how this could work.
At this stage these are simply ideas on how we could work towards operating in the short/medium term.
3, Crucially any measures we take are totally reliant on our staff and customers being comfortable that we have taken all possible precautions to mitigate the risk.
To that end, we would greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you may have at this point. This will greatly help us to formulate the right plan so we can get our sites open for the benefit of the communities they serve as soon as is deemed safe and practical.
Please enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend, stay safe, thank you all so much for your support and please give us your ideas.