Sun, 28 Jun 2020
WEST Berkshire’s pubs, hotels and restaurants are working round the clock to ensure they can open their doors on July 4, following the Government’s latest announcement on lockdown easing.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for the hospitality sector to start welcoming people back from next week, providing appropriate safety measures are in place.
Pete Lumber, from The Newbury pub in Bartholomew Street, welcomed the Government’s latest announcement and said he was now busy preparing to reopen under the new guidelines.
Perspex screens are being hung from the ceiling over the bar and between tables, which has allowed him to keep most of his seating as it was and still ensure all customers are safe.
“Our customer and staff safety is paramount to me,” he said. “It is about people coming in here and feeling safe.
“We are not back to normal yet and all the businesses in Newbury have got big challenges ahead of them.
“We need people to support our local independents and the town will flourish; something good could come out of all of this.”
When The Newbury opens it will be table service only and all waiting staff will be wearing visors.
There are foot-pedal sanitiser units at the door, outside the toilets and kitchens and a more casual menu is being introduced, as well as gin tasting boards and pre-mixed cocktails.
Ed Turner, the owner of The Dolphin in Newbury, said he was delighted by the Government announcement, having previously called on it to provide greater clarity over social distancing rules.
And he said he was pleased his concerns had been addressed, adding: “I’m really pleased the scientists think one metre plus is going to be a safe distance and I’m delighted the Government recognise pubs and restaurants are a much safer environment.
“Staff are very excited to get back and we can’t wait to welcome our loyal customers again.”
At Michelin-star restaurant The Woodspeen, a number of safety measures are being put in place to ensure diners are kept safe and they will be taking full advantage of the outside terrace.
Director of operations Alessandro Fasoli said: “It is great to be able to take reservations in July for both the restaurant and our cookery school again.”
West Berkshire Council also said this week it would be simplifying the application process for any businesses that want to increase its outdoor seating.
The new process allows for a temporary three-month pavement café licence to be issued, while the normal full planning approval can be applied for during this time.
Lee Kelly, who runs Document House, in Wharf Street, Newbury, praised the help the district council had given him to try to arrange outdoor seating space, but said he had decided to remain closed until September.
“We are looking at opening in September at the earliest,” he explained.
“Without any outside space we just cannot open yet.
“We are taking it really seriously but we can’t have DJs or bands at the weekends and so we would be opening to lose money.
“When we open, we want to stay open.”
Gyms are not allowed to reopen on July 4.
Stephen McKinnon, who owns Abstract BodyWorks in Kings Road West, Newbury, said: “We, most like gyms, believed we were going to able to open on July 4 and we were prepared for it.
“Then the Prime Minister comes out and says we aren’t able to, yet pubs, restaurants and hotels are.
“We just don’t understand why.
“Gyms and the health industry are more capable, and used to, keeping a clean environment than many pubs are.
“I run a personal training gym where there’s only one client and one trainer at a time so we know everyone who’s coming in and out. Why can’t we open?”