Coronavirus: Drinking at the bar may be stopped under proposals to reopen pubs

People could be stopped from drinking at the bar when pubs reopen as the lockdown eases.

Putting restrictions on them remaining there after ordering and getting their drink is among the proposals put forward by industry leaders to help customers stay safe from coronavirus.

Limits on the number of children in outdoor playing areas, patrols of smoking areas and stopping drinkers from returning glasses are other possibilities ahead of a potential reopening of pubs in July.

Under options from trade group UKHospitality (UKH), restaurant tables would be spaced to meet social distancing guidelines, cutlery would be brought out with each meal and condiments provided in individually wrapped sachets.

Drinking at bar

There could be restrictions on customers remaining at the bar after ordering and getting their drink

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson said that some hospitality firms could be able to reopen from 4 July at the earliest in the third phase of the government’s easing of the lockdown.

Pubs, restaurants and hotels have been closed since shutting their doors in March, with vast numbers of staff supported by the furlough scheme.

Hospitality businesses made it clear they favour a phased reopening and do not wish to move ahead with it “before the time is right”.

The guidance suggests that “restrictions on customers remaining at the bar after ordering and getting their drink” should be considered.

It also proposed that customers are “discouraged” from returning empty glasses, they are told to keep a safe distance away from bar staff and they will have to form a socially-distanced queue for orders.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive officer of UKH, said: “UKH is working hard with our members and alongside other industry bodies to develop practical and effective guidelines to enable businesses to begin to reopen safely when the time is right.

“These are draft guidelines that have been shared with governments in England, Scotland and Wales, to help inform their thinking around reopening.”

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“We hope that the guidelines will help businesses draw up their own plans based on their premises, ensuring that safety is at the forefront of operations when the right time comes to reopen.”

One landlord has gone so far as to turn an existing pub into what one might look like after lockdown.

Whatever schemes are adopted, many believe the UK’s pubs and bars face an uncertain future.

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