Pub groups to spend millions as lockdown eases

Pub groups could spend millions on goggles, gloves, and hand sanitiser to ensure they can welcome customers back when the UK’s lockdown measures are eased.

Pub groups are now preparing to reopen in July when (and if) the government gives them the go-ahead, and each have their own approach to social distancing.

The government has said that pubs can reopen from 4 July at the earliest, after they ordered to close on 20 March as part of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

According to research from Budweiser Brewing Group, more than a third (35%) of people plan to head straight to the pub the first week they reopen.

However, the patrons of the future are a cautious bunch. More than half (54%) of those surveyed said they would avoid peak times to lower the risk of catching and spreading coronavirus. A further 40% of people would be more willing to return to a pub where staff are wearing facemasks, while 36% said they would feel more comfortable if staff were shielded by plastic screens at the bar.

On Tuesday 26 May, London’s City Pub Group revealed measures it will implement in its beer gardens to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

Clive Watson, City Pub Group’s chief executive, said he would look to keep people outside as much as possible at first. Temporary bars will be set up in beer gardens and outdoor spaces, where staff will take orders with contactless payments. Customers can then pick up their order from a collection point outside. The group will also space tables at least two metres apart, and use plastic glasses, plates and cutlery.

Tim Martin, the founder of J.D. Wetherspoon, plans spend £11 million this year on things like optional goggles, gloves and masks for staff to reopen the pub chain’s 875 sites this summer.

Last Friday (22 May), the UK’s largest pub and bar chain revealed its reopening plan. Each pub will have just two members of staff working at any time, with more employees for larger venues. Employees will also need to complete a daily health assessment questionnaire to confirm they are fit to work, which will include a temperature test.

All staff will receive a full briefing and training on how they should run the pubs and ensure punters adhere to social distancing rules.

Chief executive John Hutson said executives have spent “a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans.

“We have received more than 2,500 suggestions from our staff. The safety of our staff and customers is paramount.”

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