‘Bring on July’ - pubs and restaurants look to re-open later this year
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Suffolk-based pubs and restaurants have been considering their next steps after prime minister Boris Johnson announced that they may be able to open as early as July.
“If and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing,” said Mr Johnson in his latest announcement.
Guidance issued on Monday suggested that re-opening might not be suitable or achievable for all businesses in the sector because of their size or design, meaning that some may have to stay closed.
The British Beer and Pub Association has said it remains concerned as to the future of businesses, estimating that 40% of the country’s pubs might not make it past September.
Suffolk pubs and restaurants have been looking closely the news means for them and called on the government to continue to support the hospitality industry and help it work through the finer details of re-opening.
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Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold-based Adnams, said: “It is good that the prime minister recognises the importance of the hospitality industry, the jobs it provides and the economic contribution it makes.
“The industry was the first-in and is likely to be the last-out of lockdown and needs clarity.
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“Whilst it is a fast moving situation, we are concerned for pubs the length and breadth of the country and urge the Government to ensure continued support for them to ensure these hubs at the centre of communities are not lost forever.
“Social distancing and low physical touch environments will be difficult for pubs and will likely see them working with fewer customers to ensure compliance.
“At Adnams the wellbeing of our customers, our staff and communities is our principle concern. When the time is right we will do the right thing to ensure customers will be able to enjoy our pubs confident in the knowledge that we have taken all the steps necessary to ensure their safety and we look forward to welcoming them back again.
“We have been overwhelmed by our customers loyalty to us and our products - on behalf of everyone at Adnams we would like to thank our customers for their ongoing support”
Greene King, based in Bury St Edmunds, said that it was keen to avoid a false start.
Nick Mackenzie, Greene King chief executive, said: “We of course want to welcome back customers to our pubs as soon as we can, but the impact on our 38,000 people and our commitment to customer safety are our primary concerns.
“We are keen to avoid a false start and the support that the government has provided during the lockdown will also be needed during the recovery phase as maintaining social distancing will have a significant impact on pubs.
“We are working closely with our people and our tenants to put in place a reopening strategy that adheres closely to government guidance so that when we do open our doors again, it is with robust safety and hygiene measures in place for our team and customers.”
Meanwhile, Brendan Padfield, owner of The Unruly Pig restaurant near Woodbridge, said he welcomed the prospect of re-opening but said that the finer details still need to be resolved.
“The Unruly Pig can’t wait to open its doors again. We so miss our lovely customers and friends,” said Mr Padfield.
“However, the devil will be in the detail here as to how we can reconcile running a restaurant with social distancing rules.
“On a busy Saturday night, there could be eight team members in the kitchen. A two metre social distancing rule would mean we could have two perhaps three in the kitchen.
“Out front, that same rule will mean we will have to cut the number of diners by about 60% to 70%.
“There are many respected senior industry figures who believe that current social distancing rules just don’t work in a restaurant setting. Let’s hope they are wrong.
“Where’s there’s a will there is a way. Bring on July.”