Our independent businesses have been at the centre of our community throughout lockdown, staying open to serve us the essentials the big stores ran out of and delivering to us as we shielded. Our local bars, restaurants and cafes have been a lifeline for most of us.
They adapted themselves and adjusted quickly to be able to get meals to people isolating. They created whole new menus and ways of working just to lift our spirits with amazing meals and treats. They even brought us ready made cocktails and organised gin nights for when we just needed to enjoy virtual time with friends.
So now, as they all prepare to reopen from next weekend, what should you expect and how can you support them in return?
New rules of engagement
The hospitality industry has been given over 30 steps from the Government that they have to take to reopen. These are rules and measures to keep everyone of us safe and for their teams to be safe in their work. These are not arbitrary measures they have been over zealous about putting in place. They are mandatory
Some key changes include:
- Most venues will have reduced amounts of seating to keep us spaced out. This may mean they will be offering bookings only. Please check before you visit and be understanding if they have to turn you away at the door
- You will have to give your contact details over as you enter. This may feel a breach, but it is compulsory so that the NHS can use the information for track and trace if needed. The data will only be used for this purpose
- Most venues, if feasible, will only offer table service or will have apps for you to use to order.
- Drinking, sitting and standing at the bar is a no for now as is leaning on it in anyway
- There won’t be any live music or loud late night music – the virus is spread heavily by people projecting their voices in enclosed spaces, so it is a quieter vibe and no loud singing for the foreseeable
- Large groups won’t be allowed in. Rules say two households can meet in a restaurant, but venues will have to use discretion on how many people together that means. Many will potentially only allow 6 people to sit together in one group. Groups larger then this may not event be allowed in. Please respect this and don’t try to blag that you are two households if you aren’t!
- There will be queues for toilets and you may be asked to wear a facemask to go in – make sure you don’t leave it to late to go would be our tip
- If you are outside and it rains – do not assume you can just rush inside. Their will be a capacity limit. Respect the staff if it is a no go
- Teams may be smaller to make safe, distanced working possible, because of people sheilding or because the business is trying to survive by keeping costs down. They will also be working in very different ways at first – please be understanding if service is slower
How can you help them?
Be their ally, not their enemy
Our business owners are doing everything they can to prepare for reopening following the guidance, but they will be learning as they go once they have customers in as to what works well. Don’t be that person who takes pictures of things they have got wrong. Don’t go to review sites, social and local online groups to put them down and complain about issues. Raise concerns with them privately and allow them the chance to learn, adapt and improve. Let’s support our businesses not shame them or our town will lose them.
Be patient. Be kind. Be understanding.
Please show patience and respect. Please do not take out your frustration on there being no free tables, or that you can’t come in as a group of 12, on the staff trying to do as directed. The experience may be different, menus reduced, service slower – but everyone is doing all they can to make sure you can still enjoy things safely and no one deserves to be treated with anger or rudeness when doing their job.
Follow the rules
Non of us have asked for our lives to change in this way, least of all business owners facing a fight to survive and staff terrified of redundancy. The rules are Government set, businesses have to implement them or face being forced to close or be fined. Don’t be the one to take the risks that effect others business or makes staff and other customers uncomfortable. If you don’t like or agree with the rules, you are more then entitled to that view, it won’t be the same, we know that, but perhaps stay away and get a take away for now until things relax more?
There is more then one way to help
Not all of us feel ready to get back out and many are still shielding. You can still help keep our independents and town thriving from home. Find the businesses you love on social and follow them. Like, share, comment and spread the word. Keep following our feed to find new businesses to become a fan of when you are ready. Order online. Book a table for the future. If you do go out, leave positive reviews. Spread the word. Tell your friends. Visit again and again.
Never has the onus been on us all so much as a community to make sure our town recovers and thrives. Never has there needed as much collective effort to support local and to most of all be positive.