The UK continues to emerge from its hibernation, signalled by the Government’s announcement to allow more non-essential businesses to resume trading on Saturday, 4th July.
A lot has changed since our previous blog piece on re-opening businesses. Here, we supply you with all the latest government information and advice on getting your business off to a flying start.
Last week, Boris Johnson announced that the 2-metre social distancing rule is being reduced to 1-metre plus. This is excellent news for businesses, as many argued that they could not turn a profit whilst maintaining a 2-metre distance between customers.
Non-essential businesses including bars, restaurants, museums and hotels will be allowed to open from Saturday 4th July.
Sadly, there is no indication that nightclubs, live music venues or theatres will be able to open any time soon. The government have outlined a brief recovery roadmap, and we will provide an update on the situation once more information becomes available.
These changes are a massive boost to a large portion of the hospitality industry, which has been severely crippled by the pandemic. Although some bars & restaurants have continued trading through takeaways & deliveries, most of their revenue comes from visits to the premises. These businesses will be eager to open as soon as possible.
But what we need to remember is that despite the loosening of restrictions, we are still amidst a pandemic. The way businesses operate moving forward will not be the same as pre-lockdown. Here are three key points to consider:
Indoor Customers Must Be Seated
To minimise social contact, patrons are not allowed to order at the bar or stand around the premises. The government has also instructed bars & restaurants that they must collect the contact information of patrons in order to help with their ‘test-and-trace’ efforts.
Having an online ordering system could resolve both these issues. If you don’t already use an app, build one as soon as possible, or use a third-party service. Alternatively, you can modify your website to allow for online ordering.
This more efficient method of taking orders will free up valuable time for your serving staff, so they can focus on maintaining a clean and safe environment.
The Premises Must Be ‘Covid-Secure’
The social distancing guidelines have relaxed from 2-metres to 1-metres plus. While the recommended distance is still 2-metres, for many businesses this is simply not manageable. To better control the flow of people throughout the day, implement pre-booking and time slots where possible. This would also give you an opportunity to collect customer contact information.
Every business will have slightly different social distancing guidelines, and these should be clearly communicated to customers. Floor stickers can be used to guide patrons through your premises. Clearly marked signs should convey what they should and shouldn’t do.
The government is providing plenty of guidance to help businesses become ‘Covid-secure’. These include small changes like providing hand sanitizer on entry to encouraging contactless card payment.
The pub chain Wetherspoon’s have revealed the changes they’re making to their establishments. Your bar or restaurant could incorporate a similar set-up:
It’s important to remember that everyone has a different level of ‘C19-comfort’. Some customers may be fine with physical contact, others might be shielding or within a support bubble. We cannot stress enough how important it is to be in constant communication with your audience, both in-store and online.
We cover this in more detail in ‘Key Considerations Before Re-opening Your Business’.
Selling Outdoors Is Now Easier
Scientists generally agree that being in an open-air environment decreases the risk of transmission. That’s why the government is introducing changes that make it easier for businesses to trade outdoors.
This includes temporarily changing laws to allow more licensed bars & restaurants to sell alcohol for off-site consumption. The cost of the licensing process for outdoor seating and stalls is also being reduced – great news if your premises is located next to a park or public space.
Pubs & restaurants will be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, using their existing seating licenses. Now is definitely the time to make the most of your surrounding outdoor space – especially if your premises is on the smaller side. You can read more about all these changes here.
Although businesses have much more flexibility around how you can serve customers, you should still actively encourage and incentive take-away orders. Not only is this safer, but it frees up vital indoor & outdoor space for additional customers.
It’s safe to say that the changes announced last week are a real boost to businesses, particularly bars & restaurants. These decisions are reflective of the ‘feel-good’ messaging present by the government in recent times. Although the 4th July sees us take a step back into normality, we must reiterate that we are still in a pandemic. Your business needs to operate with caution.
We await to see what the government has to say regarding the re-opening of nightclubs, live music venues and theatres. These have largely been forgotten so far, despite their numerous social, cultural and economic contributions to society. We will explore this situation further in a future blog piece, but for now, prepare yourself for ‘Super Saturday’.
For more advice on promoting your business, please check out our new-and-improved journal.