Industry Professionals Fear an Autumn Slump with the Rule of 6
A new report on the pubs and bars sector has revealed that close to a quarter of licensed premises have yet to reopen according to analysts at Alix Partners. Although this was up by 14% from the end of July there are still 27,000 premises that are still closed. Industry professionals fear an autumn slump could hurt business with the Rule of 6 dominating the conversation. The fear is that consumer confidence will fall as a result and many are urging for common sense. Those premises that are open are sending out a clear message that there is business to be had but you have to be flexible and understanding.
Cyrus Todiwala, chef patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, spoke out in LinkedIn:
“The greatest problem we will all face is the simple fact that messages sent out by our government are not clear and concise at times and this confuses the minds of ordinary folk. In another borough the Police have contacted restauranteurs about the rules and regulations and their enforcement, in our borough the newsletter from the council was more relaxed and did not say how much it affected the restaurant trade but certainly affect the pub trade. In any case this is going to throw a spanner in the already fragile ground we are all treading on in Central London. Just as you get the feeling that people are becoming more adventurous we are hit with another whammy. So YES business will be affected.
If groups of six or more wish to still come we simply have to divide them and not allow them to sit together so long as they are all together normally. People from different groups may pose a problem under new guidelines. They will not be able to greet each other closely.
FURLOUGH. Come October end we shall actually see how well our dear industry holds itself. When furlough stops many of us feel that there will be many who will be forced to shut their doors.”
Steve Locklin, General Manager of The Boat Inn, Lichfield, said: “We have only recently reopened the restaurant and we have been busier than ever. We use ResDiary so we can monitor table sizes and should a party of larger than 6 be required, we are able to split them over several socially distanced tables.
“So far people have understood we are trying our best and the situation is not ideal but we’ve had not complaints so far. Our biggest concern would be another lockdown so it is imperative that people use common sense to help business survive. For now, we are serving all day as opposed to lunch/dinner service to allow us to stagger bookings more but also allowing for more covers during the day.”
Matt Gasden. Senior Sous Chef at Brunning and Price Pubs, said:
“We opened up beginning on July and our business has been busy non stop. We’ve reduced the numbers to 66% inside meaning we’ve lost about 60 covers and taken a few tables outside away to give off a safe feel to the public. People come to us and feel safe and we will carry on doing so to a professional level. I feel like the government are doing enough but it’s getting your customers to listen and obey these orders/laws that have been put in place to help reduce the risk of catching the virus.
Obviously people aren’t happy with the ‘rule of six’ but the quicker we listen to this, the quicker the R rating could drop the better.
Chef Alan Drake summed up the mood of smaller businesses trying to offer and service and stay afloat. He said:
“We opened up a lot later then everyone else, I was waiting for things to get better but in the end opened up due to financial reasons. We watched very closely what other people had done and we have gone over the top, after seeing other peoples mistakes and what problems they were having.
I am especially worried about catching this, age 55, slightly overweight, smoker and type 2 diabetes, so we are strict, we insist our customers sanitise on entry, we take a temperature and a phone number for each and every member of the table, and now a separate phone contact for every single person. Failure to comply they are refused service and asked to leave, though this hasn’t happened yet. I wear a disposable mask and all my staff have to wear a face visor, we think these work better because the customers can see your face and especially your mouth, its surprising how many people lip read in addition to listening!”