Eating out is back under starter's orders for Super Saturday

Super Saturday will see pubs and restaurants re-open after 15 weeks under lockdown.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 8:20 am

But for staff and customers alike it will be a case of back to the future as new Covid rules change the whole face of the hospitality industry.

Gone will be the days of crowded bars and cafes with drinkers and diners shoehorned in to maximise takings.

It is going to be a whole new experience - and one which could become the socially distanced norm in the wake of the deadly virus.

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Staff like Laura Short will be greeting customers in PPE.

Government guidelines for restaurants will mean fewer tables, disposable menus, perspex screens, hand sanitising stations and staff in PPE perpetually cleaning everywhere and everything to reduce the risk of infection.

In pubs there will be no more hanging around the bar, no loud music (shouting to be heard can spread infection further) and no football on the TV in many venues in case customers get over-excited and start hugging everyone in sight. Play areas for children will remain closed.

There will be lots more outdoor seating , customers will be asked for their details in case they are needed for track and trace and they will be encouraged to use contactless payment.

“It will be different, very different,” said Lee Johnson who is the ops and Covid response manager at the 1842 restaurant and bar in Preston city centre.

“We’re excited to be opening again on Saturday, but it’s also going to make staff and customers a little nervous until we get into the swing.”

Staff at 1842, formerly the Corn Exchange, have already been in for training and will all wear perspex visors. The venue has a 40-page risk assessment document for guidance.

“We’re ready to get up and running again,” said Lee who will carry out regular temperature checks on staff.

“We started taking bookings for tables on Monday and we have been inundated.

“We have done all we possibly can to keep everyone safe. We want people to come here, and have a great time in a safe environment.”

While venues are doing all they can to keep customers safe, they don’t expect demand to be as high as before lockdown.

“Who knows? It’s a matter of waiting to see,” said Lee.