Coronavirus UK: Buffet ban and no drinking at bar, hospitality report reveals

No drinking at the bar, no cutlery laid out on tables and hotel buffets ditched for good under the new normal when the hospitality industry reopens on July 4.

A 75-page document has been submitted to ministers, giving a first glimpse of what bars and restaurants will look like in a new socially distanced world.

Other restrictions could include patrols of smoking areas, children’s play areas axed, no salt and pepper shakers and individually wrapped sauces and condiments only available on request.

Tables will be spaced apart and there will be tape on the floor showing the appropriate distance needed. All of these new rules are part of potential measures touted to help sites meet coronavirus guidelines as the country moves forward in the coming months.

Trade group UKHospitality has put forward the initial proposals, alongside other industry leaders, in the document submitted to ministers.

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Boris Johnson revealed his ‘ambition’ to reopen pubs, restaurants and hotels in July subject to monitoring of infection rates and tracking measures as he lifted some lockdown rules last Sunday.

The initial measures that saw all hospitality and non-essential businesses close were first imposed by the PM on March 23, with vast numbers of staff furloughed as a result.

He has urged people to return to work and hoped that from June 1 schools and shops would reopen.

To get the economy kickstarted, the prime minister hopes to open up the majority of eating and drinking businesses on July 4 in the Government’s third phase of the lockdown.

The newly-released draft plans give a glimpse of how restaurants, bars and other leisure facilities will operate as the country eases out of lockdown, and offers suggestions for how they can operate safely during the pandemic.

In the guidance, hospitality businesses clarified that they ‘do not wish to move ahead with reopening before the time is right’ and support a phased reopening approach.

The industry has been devastated by the health crisis, with sales plummeting and many businesses still unsure if reopening with social distancing rules will be financially viable.



What are the new rules for pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels?

Eating

The proposals for restaurants suggest that condiments would not be left on tables, with individually wrapped sauces and condiments handed out by staff on request.

Restaurants would also need to bring cutlery with customers’ food, rather than leave them on tables or allow customers to help themselves.

Tables would also be spaced in the restaurant to meet social distancing guidelines.

Any use of a menu should be limited and cleaned after use by a member of staff.

Drinking

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 and told to keep a safe distance away from bar staff.

People will have to form a socially-distanced queue for orders, with tape on the floor showing the appropriate distance needed.

Other options that pubs could consider is getting customers to order from one till and collect drinks at a separate pick up point.

Pubs will also have to put in place a plan for toilets to ensure they don’t become overcrowded and pub gardens may be patrolled to ensure big groups don’t congregate.

Hotels

Similar rules for eating and drinking apply at hotels, with buffets soon to be a thing of the past.

Guests who want to use gyms and spa facilities may be banned from using changing rooms and instead told to change and wash in their rooms to prevent overcrowding.

Room keys will have to be regularly disinfected and room service will be left outside hotel room doors to limit between staff and customers.

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.

‘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.’

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