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Ready to reopen? Guidance for UK Pubs and Restaurants

At a glance

  • Pubs and Restaurants are set to reopen in the UK on 4th July
  • From disposing of old stock, using outdoor spaces to the flow of customers our Zurich Risk Guidance provides information to help businesses prepare for reopening
  • Proprietors and managers need to look at this as though they are opening for the first time with a particular emphasis on health and safety

Hospitality businesses have faced a difficult time, following 3 months of compulsory closures due to the Covid-19 lockdown. But now, with Pubs and Restaurants set to open on 4th July it is anticipated that Brits will have an appetite to reconnect with friends and family over a drink or a meal out.  Key to getting businesses back on their feet is that customers and employees feel that businesses are operating safely.

However, getting people back in premises and money back in tills will not be as simple as opening the doors. Bars and restaurants are looking at a new way of operating, one that requires careful thought, planning and execution.

While the sector awaits the promised Government guidance on how they can operate in a new normal, there is existing guidance that can help these businesses prepare for opening as and when they are permitted.

First and foremost, re-opening can’t be treated as standard. Proprietors and managers need to look at this as though they are opening for the first time with a particular emphasis on health and safety.

It is important that old stock, including alcohol, be disposed of safely and in compliance with local authority requirements. Make sure that all beer lines and dispensing machines are cleaned thoroughly and anywhere that is going to see a high volume of people, customers or employees, receives a deep clean.

With social distancing rules limiting the space that bars and restaurants can use, many venues are looking at making greater use of their outdoor space, but this must be done by applying existing Health & Safety rules.

Whether it is more furniture or using car parking space for extra seating, it is important that the normal rigour around health and safety is applied. Anything less could result in injuries to employees or customers and leave operators exposed to liability claims.

Zurich’s public liability policies will cover the use of pavements, gardens, terraces, marquees, and similar outdoors areas for additional seating as standard. If businesses are adapting spaces such as car parks, it’s important to consider how these will be accessed and if one-way systems are required to help aid social distancing. If there are uneven surfaces or steps, make sure there are signs reminding customers to be careful. Policyholders should also be aware that additional planning permissions or licencing requirements may be required, such as when placing seating on public pavements.

Please refer to our attached detailed guidance on the cover provided for hospitality trades by our SME Shop policy.

The flow of customers and employees through premises is going to be important too. In the past, this would normally have been considered within the context of fire safety but now it must also be considered within the context of hygiene.

Try to understand where the highest footfall and concentration of people is likely to be. This is almost certainly going to be different than normal so try to map it out and understand how you will be able to maintain the necessary social distancing while providing adequate hand washing and sanitation services.

Of course, it is one thing to plan and other entirely to execute, which is why staff training is going to be more important than ever.

There is a lot to consider from an employee perspective, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a Covid-19 Risk Assessment guide that should help owners and managers map out how to keep employees and customers safe.

Whatever approach is taken, it is important that any training and consultation with employees is delivered consistently and recorded. While it is clear the Government wants pubs and restaurants open as much as the rest of us, they want it done safely.

To do that, they have increased the HSE budget to provide extra capacity to get inspectors out to venues to evaluate their performance and they do, of course, have the teeth to take enforcement action. And it stands to reason that the police will also be paying close attention to the opening of our pubs and restaurants to ensure it is being done safely.

In short – make sure you are planning and executing the opening of your premises properly and are recording all the measures taken and the training given to employees.

But for any re-opening plan to work, customers need to be on board too. That means plenty of signage and reminders across the premises making it clear what customers are expected to do in regard to maintaining hygiene – hand washing and sanitising, social distancing and where and when to wear face coverings.

Communication is key

Whatever it is you want employees and customers to do, it is important to communicate, clearly and repeatedly, verbally and visually.

Almost everyone wants pubs and restaurants to reopen but for that wish to become a permanent reality, it is vital that it is done with thought, consideration and planning. Specific guidance from the Government on what pubs and restaurants should do is forthcoming but there are still plenty of steps you can take to get yourself ready.

It is important for operators to understand that these measures aren’t being put in place as a ‘wish list’ by the Government. Compliance is expected.  There is also the risk of public and employer’s liability claims hitting an already fragile sector if the reopening process is not managed effectively.

A world where we can all once again enjoy the pleasures of dining and drinking out is not far away. It just needs everyone – employers, employees and customers – to play their part.

If you have any questions regarding cover for your SME customers, you can use our Live Chat function on Zurich Online or Acturis to speak with one of our teams.

For any questions regarding larger businesses please speak to your usual Zurich contact.

Click here to read more about our Shop policy cover for hospitality trades

Image © Getty

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