Fri, 03 Jul 2020
FOR more than three months, pubs and restaurants around the country have been shut, with thousands of jobs, livelihoods and businesses put at risk.
That time is finally coming to an end after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that pubs and restaurants could reopen from Saturday.
The Royal Oak in Ecchinswell will reopen its doors fully on July 10 to allow owners Chris and Laura Webb extra time to introduce a one-way system and rearrange the furniture.
Mr Webb said he was excited about welcoming customers back, but nervous about how things would go.
He said: “It’s a very unknown situation. I’m excited because being in an empty pub is not the same, but at the same time it’s trying to work out what trade will come back and what it will look like, and whether the plans I’m putting in place are sufficient.
“It’s not until we’re functioning that I’ll see the knock-on effect of the different ways we’re going to have to do things.
“There’s a lot of back-of-house preparations – staff training and logistics so you don’t have more than one person in the kitchen or cellar. It’ll change people’s job roles quite considerably.”
Not all restaurants or bars are prepared to reopen their dining areas however, including The Red House owner Simon Liquorish in Highclere.
Mr Liquorish, who has operated a successful takeaway business from The Red House since lockdown began, doesn’t feel that a sufficient number of customers will be ready to return to eating inside in July for the business to be financially viable.
Instead, he will only reopen the bar inside The Red House, with guests invited to drink outside in a seated area – while continuing the restaurant’s takeaway operation.
A one-way system will be introduced inside the bar as well as floor markings to enforce social distancing, and a Perspex screen will be put in place between customers and bar staff.
Mr Liquorish said: “I’m excited and looking forward to getting back to having customers on the premises.
“It’s going to be tricky going forward until confidence has been restored for people to come out and dine, and for that reason we’re not going to offer table service for a while.
“We’ll keep going with the takeaway side of things and come September we’ll review the situation.
“If we feel people have the appetite for coming out again and are confident to sit down inside and have table service then we’d like to get back to normality.”
Another pub which won’t be reopening its food service is The Badgers’ Wood in Tadley.
Maggie Jordan, who runs the pub, hasn’t been able to operate a takeaway service as she’s been shielding, and now can’t afford to reopen her kitchen.
Instead, the pub will operate solely as a bar with strict social distancing rules in place, as well as plastic screens to go around the bar.
Mrs Jordan said she’s apprehensive about reopening, but that it was necessary because of financial concerns.
She said: “I’m worried sick, I really am. I’ve got more questions than I’ve got answers.
“I’m worried about how it’s going to go and how to control social distancing when people have had a drink.
“There will be two members of staff – one behind the bar and one doing waitress service.
“There’s no coming to the bar – we’re going to be strict on that.
“The things I’m putting in place will be followed to the line, it’ll be one strike and you’re out.
“I’m not prepared to risk the lives of my staff, myself or my customers.”