Race is on for drinkers to land a spot at their local pub

‘Reserving a pub table for July 4 just felt like securing Glasto tickets!’ Race is on for drinkers to land a spot at their local for ‘Independence Day’ end of lockdown (though Wetherspoon pubs say just turn up on the day)

  • Most English pubs will be taking table reservations in advance to control crowds
  • But Wetherspoons say they won’t and anyone who wants a pint can just turn up 
  • Some pubs are already fully booked for their first day back in service for months  

Thirsty drinkers were today battling to book a spot at their local for the July 4 ‘Independence Day’ reopening, with one punter joking the process ‘felt like securing Glasto tickets’. 

Most English pubs will be taking table reservations in advance to control crowds, although Wetherspoons told MailOnline they won’t be doing so and anyone wanting a pint can just turn up. 

Some venues already have all their tables reserved on the opening day, while pub company Oakman Inns said they had already taken more than 3,000 bookings for July 4 alone. 

Those lucky enough to have bagged their place celebrated on Twitter, with one beer fan writing: ‘Table booked at the pub for when it opens. Being a regular has its perks…’ 

Meanwhile, Louise Donaldson tweeted: ‘I can’t wait to go to the pub… I’m happy to contribute towards getting the economy back up and running and will forever be grateful for the furlough money’. 

A member of staff at a Wetherspoons in north London cleans glasses today in preparation for pubs reopening on July 4

A member of staff at a Wetherspoons in north London cleans glasses today in preparation for pubs reopening on July 4 

One Twitter user joked that securing a table at her local pub on July 4 was like booking tickets for the Glastonbury Festival

One Twitter user joked that securing a table at her local pub on July 4 was like booking tickets for the Glastonbury Festival 

Pubs will be expected to take customers’ details when before they have a drink in case the information is needed by NHS Track and Trace. 

This could be taken from customers during the booking process or at the pub itself. Wetherspoons say they expect the use of its official app will be sufficient to cover this requirement but are waiting for more details from the government.  

London pub chain Fullers and Birmingham-based Mitchell and Butlers are both accepting bookings at all of their venues for up to six people. 

Oakman Inns said it had already taken more than 3,000 bookings for July 4 and that two of its 28 pubs had already sold out, according to a trade journal

Meanwhile, David Hogg, the manager of Millers Tap on Uxbridge High Street told My London he had received a ‘mad’ number of bookings following Boris Johnson’s speech. 

Mr Johnson has backed calls for people to ‘do their patriotic best for Britain’ and head to the pubs, joking that he may be touring the pubs country-wide himself.

Venues will be required to adopt a number of safety measures, including:  

  • Screens at the tills and to create seating areas to maintain social distancing;
  • Pre-booking all tables and being banned from standing at the bar to drink; 
  • One entrance with a separate exit door where possible to keep people apart;
  • Menus on tables will have to be thrown out after being used once;
  • Staff will hand over drinks holding the base of the glass to reduce contact; 
  • Employees will have to wash their hands between serving different tables.

Some pubs already have all their tables reserved on the opening day, prompting those lucky enough to have bagged their place to celebrate on Twitter

Some pubs already have all their tables reserved on the opening day, prompting those lucky enough to have bagged their place to celebrate on Twitter

It has been suggested some Ministers might go to the pub for a PR stunt, with a Government official saying: ‘There’s a job to be done to encourage people to go out.’

Meanwhile car parks and hotel grounds could be converted into temporary beer gardens to help with social distancing by encouraging drinkers outside.

Pub hosts and Perspex screens: What will the ‘new normal’ look like in England’s bars?

Supermarket-style queues, ‘pub hosts’ and Perspex screens at the bar will greet customers waiting to enjoy their first pub pint since lockdown began.

Two of the most popular British pub chains, Wetherspoons and Greene King, have outlined how their outlets will look as they reopen their doors from July 4 in England, while others have not been able to make plans.

A spokesman for one independent pub, the Gloucester Old Spot in Cheltenham, said they are ‘all guns blazing’ for a reopening but need Government guidance for the sector beyond the new one-metre rule.

So what can people expect under the ‘new normal’?

– Signing in

Many publicans have said they will be operating a pre-booking system to control customer numbers, and expect supermarket-style queues at the door.

Brewer Greene King said it will be introducing a ‘pub host’, who will manage the queues, greet customers from one metre away, and show them to their tables.

– Ordering a pint

British pub giants Wetherspoons and Greene King have said customers will be encouraged to use phone apps to order and pay for drinks, to avoid people congregating at the bar.

Both chains have also said their bars will be fitted with perspex screens, hand sanitisers, and floor stickers indicating a one-way system for moving around the pub.

– Eating in

Following the Government’s reduction of the two-metre social distancing restriction, pubs will be spacing tables at least one metre apart.

Along with other industry leaders, trade union group UKHospitality (UKH) put forward proposals to ministers, including that customers should be served individually-wrapped sauces and condiments rather than sharing bottles.

Some pubs have said they will be handing out one-time-use menus which customers can take away or dispose of at the venue.

– Using the toilet

Cleaners will be on hand in pub toilets, and Greene King has said its cleaners will be refreshing the facilities every 15 minutes.

It added that a ‘pub safe monitor’ will be cleaning surfaces and tables, and customers will be asked to flip ‘one in, one out’ red and green indicators at the entrance to toilets with their elbow as they enter and leave.

– ‘New normal’ for bartenders and servers

Wetherspoons staff will be undergoing temperature checks and filling in health questionnaires before each shift and could be wearing masks, gloves, and eye protection.

When they serve drinks, they will only be touching the bottom of the glass in order to avoid transmission via the surface.

– Final orders?

The Government has not yet said whether there will be a limit on the number of drinks one person can buy.

A spokesman for Wetherspoons said staff will ensure ‘customers are served responsibly’, although they hinted there would be no limit on the number of orders a customer can make.

‘Before lockdown you couldn’t order three pints for yourself at one time and that will be the case now,’ they said.

 

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New laws due to be introduced to Parliament this Thursday will allow pubs to turn their ‘spaces inside out’ this summer, reported the Daily Telegraph.

One source said: ‘At the moment, you (pubs) have to specify in the plan for your licence where you are selling and serving alcohol. Beer gardens tend to be licensed already but car parks aren’t.

‘You could have little courtyards that would be normally used for storage, car parks or land that you don’t normally license. A lot of hotels will have huge gardens but won’t have an outdoor licence.’

Mr Johnson told the Commons yesterday that restaurants and pubs will be allowed to reopen from July 4.

He said: ‘I can tell the House that we will also reopen restaurants and pubs. All hospitality indoors will be limited to table service and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.

‘We will ask businesses to help NHS Test and Trace respond to any local outbreaks by collecting contact details from customers as happens in other countries and we will work with the sector to make this manageable.’

Mr Johnson also said the two-metre rule will be reduced to ‘one metre-plus’ from July 4.

He told the Commons: ‘Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus we can change the two-metre social distancing rule from July 4.’

He added: ‘Where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should.

‘But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of one metre-plus, meaning they should remain one metre apart while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.’

Mr Johnson added: ‘I know this rule effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy even without other restrictions, for example it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry from operating.’ 

Before the announcement, Peter Borg-Neal, chief executive of Oakman Inns, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘We will be taking bookings only in the early stages. 

‘So we will have names through our normal booking system. However it would seem to me a sort of strange replacement for a trace and contact scenario, but if the Government would like us to do it, then we’ll happily do it.’

‘I think it will evolve, but on day one we want to be very, very certain about what we’re doing. We want to make sure that everyone there feels reassured, that the staff feel happy with what’s going on and feel able to keep it all under control.

‘We would perhaps develop as time goes by and allow people to turn unannounced, but then that they must realise that they may not get a table because you can’t just have people stood in the bars, it will be table service only in those early weeks.

‘We are very, very foreready for the first day, so we do need to warn people that if they’ve not got a table then they shouldn’t come.’

Mr Borg-Neal revealed last Friday that many of his sites are fully booked on July 4 and they are having to take more staff off furlough to handle the bookings. 

A spokesman for the Peach Pubs chain added that it was ‘fully booked’ already for the first weekend at six of its largest pubs which are due to open on July 4. 

Ministers are expected to ask bars and restaurants to keep a record of everyone who visits, including their mobile phone numbers.

The idea has been used in New Zealand where venues hold a register of everyone they serve each day. If someone falls ill with coronavirus, the list is then used to help with contact-tracing. 

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to resume more normal trading from July 4 as the hospitality sector reopens. 

Many pubs and bars are already taking advantage of lockdown rules that allow them to sell takeaway food and drinks, and drinkers have been out in force in some areas.  

Wetherspoon pubs will be very different places when they reopen and the chain has said it will spend £11million getting them ready. This graphic shows how they may appear from July 4

Wetherspoon pubs will be very different places when they reopen and the chain has said it will spend £11million getting them ready. This graphic shows how they may appear from July 4

Music must be turned down low, ketchup sachets will replace bottles, and pints should be ordered on your smartphone in pubs and restaurants in England, new guidance from the Government has said.

The guidelines published on Wednesday, ahead of lockdown measures easing on July 4, ask restaurant and pub bosses to ensure that customers and staff can be safe while enjoying a drink or a meal.

It includes obvious measures, such as ensuring social distancing, cleaning bathrooms and reducing contact between people.

However, the atmosphere inside venues is also likely to change considerably.

Not only will they welcome fewer people in order to ensure that customers are sat further apart, but the stereo, or football match on the TV, will also be turned down.

The guidance reads: “All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult.”

Tony Bennett, the owner of The Devereux pub in Temple, London, raises two pints outside his establishment yesterday

Tony Bennett, the owner of The Devereux pub in Temple, London, raises two pints outside his establishment yesterday 

This is because as people start shouting or speaking up they are more likely to launch the virus into the air and spread it to other customers – so-called aerosol transmission.

Pubs and restaurants will also be asked to get their customers to order food directly to their tables using a smartphone app, where possible.

Another casualty of the coronavirus restrictions is likely to be the bottle of vinegar or jar of mayonnaise, as the Government encourages businesses to replace these with disposable alternatives.

And gone are the days of picking up your own knives and forks at the counter. Cutlery should only be brought to the table with the food, according to the Government recommendations.

Meanwhile, queues are here to stay, as the guidance to ensure that people wait their turn outside venues.

This will mean that managers have to cooperate with their neighbours to ensure that queues waiting to get into two places do not mingle.

This cooperation could stretch as far as staggering opening times to ensure that people are not queuing and taking public transport to the venue at the same time.        

Mark and Katie Symes, at the Exeter Arms in Barrowden, Rutland, celebrate yesterday afternoon as the Prime Minister announces that pubs can open on July 4

Mark and Katie Symes, at the Exeter Arms in Barrowden, Rutland, celebrate yesterday afternoon as the Prime Minister announces that pubs can open on July 4

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