JD Wetherspoon today revealed its £11million masterplan to reopen its 875 pubs in the UK and Ireland as soon as the Government gives them the nod in July – but there is growing pressure on Boris Johnson to make it earlier.
Drinkers will be expected to sanatise their hands on arrival and repeatedly during their visit, follow one-way systems to the toilets and through the bar where the tills will be screened off to protect staff likely to be wearing masks, gloves and eye protection.
Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the glass and when ordered via a smartphone will be delivered to the table on a tray and for the customers to take themselves to reduce the chances of spreading Covid-19.
The pub chain, founded by Tim Martin, will open during its usual hours of 8am to around 1am and encourage customers to order using its app with posters put up telling them ‘there is no need to visit the bar’. But people can pay by cash or card at the till if necessary.
Drinkers will be encouraged to use the pubs’ gardens but inside tables will be surrounded by screens to ensure social distancing. The chain’s food menu will be pared back and condiment bottles removed and replaced with sachets to prevent coronavirus spreading via shared ketchup, mayonnaise and vinegar.
Every pub will also have a member of staff employed to sanatise the pubs, concentrating on door knobs, card machines and hand rails.
Revealing what Wetherspoons customers will experience post-lockdown, the chain revealed:
- The pubs will use one entrance with a separate exit door where possible. Customer entry and exit will be marked out by floor stickers and/or barriers. Door security will monitor the numbers entering and leaving to prevent overcrowding;
- All of its pubs will have screens at the tills and there will also be screens to create seating areas where it is not possible to separate the tables by two metres;
- Wetherspoon will provide gloves, masks and protective eyewear – but it is not mandatory for them to wear them unless the Government says so. They will also have their temperatures taken on arrival for their shifts.
- Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the glass and when ordered by the app they will be delivered to the table on a tray and placed on the table using the base of the glass.
- Each pub will have at least ten or more hand santiser stations and customers should use them on arrival and multiple times during their visit. One member of staff will be dedicated to sanitising surfaces;
- The drinks menu will remain the same – but food will be pared back and items should be ordered via the official JD Wetherspoon app if possible. But tills will be open and take cash; The pubs will provide sachets (ketchup, mayonnaise, salt pepper etc), rather than their usual condiment bottles;
- Workers must hand over all drinks holding the base of the glass and when ordered by the app they will be delivered to the table on a tray and placed on the table using the base of the glass.
This picture shows a Wetherpoon pub in south London when it was still open. The graphics show what could happen if pubs reopen in July
Wetherspoons staff will also be given protective equipment like this worker at The Althorp in Wandsworth Common this week – but they will not have to wear them unless the Government insists on it
The pub’s staff have been consulted on the plans published today, and put forward thousands of ideas of their own to stay safe, the chain said
Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: ‘At present the government have not confirmed any reopening date for pubs.
‘However, it is important that we are prepared for any announcement.
‘We have spent a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans. We have received more than 2,500 suggestions from our staff. The safety of our staff and customers is paramount.’
Wetherspoon has an average customer area of almost 4,000 square foot and almost 700 of its pubs have either a beer garden, roof garden/terrace or outside patio area.
Pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues may be safe to reopen immediately without risking a spike in the coronavirus infection rate, according to a top scientist.
Sunetra Gupta, a professor at the University of Oxford, claims there is a ‘strong possibility’ businesses would be able to welcome customers once more, and avoid the kind of catastrophic consequences the government has warned could occur if lockdown restrictions aren’t eased in steady phases.
Furthermore, she claimed long-term social distancing in fact makes the public more vulnerable to infectious diseases, by keeping them unprotected from pathogens.
A study by Imperial College London, led by Professor Neil Ferguson, warned in March as many as half a million people could die in the UK if a strict lockdown wasn’t enforced.
However, Professor Gupta and her team at Oxford produced an alternative model, suggesting that half of all Brits could have already been exposed to Covid-19 and that the true infection fatality rate may be as low as 0.1 per cent.
The study was controversial, but two months on, the scientist stands by the findings.
Boris Johnson,pictured with JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin, is facing pressure to try to get pubs and restaurants open earlier to revive the economy
Drinkers are pictured at JJ Moon’s in Tooting, south London, on March 20, the final day Wetherspoon was open nationwide
She told Unherd: ‘I think there’s a chance we might have done better by doing nothing at all, or at least by doing something different, which would have been to pay attention to protecting the vulnerable, to have thought about protecting the vulnerable 30 or 40 years ago when we started cutting hospital beds. The roots of this go a long, long way back.
‘The Government’s defence is that this [the Imperial College model] was a plausible worst case scenario. I agree it was a plausible — or at least a possible — worst case scenario.
Sunetra Gupta, a professor at the University of Oxford, claims there is a ‘strong possibility’ pubs and restaurants may be able to reopen immediately
‘The question is, should we act on a possible worst case scenario, given the costs of lockdown? It seems to me that given that the costs of lockdown are mounting, that case is becoming more and more fragile.’
Boris Johnson ordered the shutdown of the hospitality industry on March 20 and they have remained closed ever since.
However, as lockdown measures were eased slightly last week, Brits have made their way to parks and beaches to take advantage of the recent warm weather.
Local businesses are also making the most of the opportunity after sunseekers were seen yesterday, on the hottest day of the year so far, carrying drinks away from bars in takeaway cups.
This week it emerged that the hospitality industry has submitted a 75 page report setting out a roadmap to getting restaurants and pubs open on July 4, that includes ditching the hotel buffet and no more drinkers at the bar.
The dossier has been submitted to ministers by UKHospitality, the trade body for the industry.
It says that in pubs and restaurants, salt and pepper shakers will be removed from tables and instead brought to customers along with cutlery, instead of it being on the table when you sit down.
Drinkers will also be discouraged from queuing up at the bar, and table service will be encouraged.
To prevent people not respecting social distancing guidelines there will be tape on the floor showing the appropriate distance needed.
Other options that pubs could consider is getting customers to order from one till and then collecting drinks at a separate pick up point.
When leaving the pub or getting another drink many people will take their empty glasses back to the bar so staff don’t have to come and collect them.
But the document says that glasses should now be collected by staff.
Pubs will also have to put in place a plan for toilets to ensure they don’t become overcrowded.
Kaomi and Mick Jones, landlady and landlord of the Railway, Hebden Bridge, enjoy a drink outside their closed pub on the hottest day of the year this week. They attracted the interest of passing police until they explained to officers they are within the boundaries of their home
Sunseekers were seen in Brighton yesterday, on the hottest day of the year so far, carrying drinks away from bars in takeaway cups