When the Prime Minister announced yesterday that most pubs and catering businesses could re-open or extend beyond a delivery service on 4th July, many in the sector were already wondering how. In the end it will boil down to an individual business choice.
A Bit of a Muddle
Official guidance and guidelines on what’s required were not available on 23rd June. Indeed, googling catering guidance brings up the Scottish government response as the first option. Given that the opportunity to open only applies to England, that’s not particularly helpful. But we are assured that the guidelines will be updated soon. In reality this will be too late for a 4th July opening for those who decide to open.
As the AC Services’ region is South West England and South Wales, we have some customers who can consider opening and some who won’t hear until 9th July. This is when the Welsh Assembly is next due to announce its decision.
In catering, timing and communication are everything. All catering businesses need to consider whether they wish to meet the opportunity of opening on 4th July or to start communicating to their clients the date when they will be open. They can then plan accordingly and manage the risks.
What might catering businesses need to do?
Details are sketchy of what might be required. It became further confused with the reduction of the 2m to 1m rule. What may be needed is to:
- Provide mandatory table service for drinks as well as meals
- Require staff to wear face masks and wash hands every 20 minutes
- Use app-ordering by customers at table
- Reduce the numbers of tables to comply with distancing rules
- Provide options for sitting outside and perhaps Perspex screens between tables for those inside
- Take all customer details to enable contact tracing should an outbreak occur.
Consider your team and your catering equipment?
Ultimately to open or not after 4th July is a business decision. This should consider whether there is sufficient demand from your customers to fill your restricted venue delivered by a trained team of staff supported by fully operational equipment. This was the decision faced by AC Services at the beginning of lockdown.
As we maintain and service Rational ovens in hospitals and other key services, we could not fully close. We did however have to furlough staff to balance demand against potential income.
With clients already preparing to re-open, we’re getting increasing calls to service Rational ovens. This allows us to unfurlough engineers as the sector begins to get back on its feet.
Calling us before opening allows us to schedule the engineer visits outside of service hours. This minimises both covid-19 risks and the chaos caused when a machine fails in-service. We’d recommend that if your machines have not been used for some time, that they are serviced first as the best way to save costs.
But we also recognise that some businesses will take the risk given Rational’s reputation for reliability. We’re sure that those businesses will understand if we are unable to respond immediately, as we used to, until we have our own team back at full strength. And if it does happen do call us on 01454 322 222 so we can discuss your options.