What will restaurant social distancing look like in the UK?

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What will restaurant social distancing look like in the UK?

The government has floated the idea of some bars and restaurants reopening from 4th July, with physical distancing in place. But, is it possible for businesses to generate revenue with reduced capacities? How can bars and restaurants keep people safe serve enough customers?

Various solutions have been proposed for distancing between customers and staff. Ordering via an app is something many brands are implementing. Reduced menus, screens between tables and an end to communal sauce bottles and cutlery tables are other possible changes.

JD Wetherspoons has said they will operate with reduced staff in some locations and members of their team will be instructed to make sure physical distancing is enforced around their venues.

However, these ideas don’t address the disruption the 2-metre rule will have on capacities. Most bars and restaurants will be able to rearrange their floorplans to keep tables 2 metres apart. But how many covers will that leave? The dent in sales is likely to be significant.


What does restaurant social distancing look like in Europe?

Many European cities have reopened their cafes, bars and restaurants to some extent. In Paris, customers are seated on outdoor tables 1 metre apart and staff wear PPE. Germany has a 1.5 metre rule and a limit of people from two different households. Spanish restaurants and bars are open at 50% capacity and Italy is making use of plastic screening between tables.

While it remains to be seen if these measures will be successful, the process has no doubt been made easier due to the more reliable weather in these countries. In the UK, we’re up against less outdoor seating and the unpredictable summer weather.

Making more room for bar and restaurant social distancing – what can be done?

Many bars and restaurants simply won’t have access to any outdoor space and will need to remain closed until it’s safer to seat people indoors. There will be other pubs, bars and restaurants with gardens or terraces they can make use of, seating customers 2 metres apart.

The British are known for their resilience when it comes to braving colder temperatures for the sake of a drink outdoors. No doubt many customers will be keen to return to and support their locals despite less than ideal seating arrangements. But the rain remains a sticking point.

Covered seating areas for all year round

We’ve been helping bars and restaurants extend their covered seating and serve more customers for the past two decades. Creating an outdoor seating area with a canopy system increases the number of covers you can seat all year round – rain, wind, or shine.

The canopy systems designed specifically for the hospitality sector – the Cantabria and the Skyroof (pictured above) – operate with open, partially open, or enclosed sides. Overhead shelter means customers can drink and dine comfortably outdoors even in the rain, and systems can be fitted with heaters too.

canopies for restaurants

Taking outdoor drinking and dining beyond physical distancing

It’s looking like we’ll be living with physical distancing for the coming months, if not years. But a sheltered outdoor area extends the capacity of your bar or restaurant for the long run.

The Cantabria system has helped hotels, bars and restaurants up and down the country to profit from unused outdoor space. For Alec Smith, owner of Alec’s Restaurant in Brentwood, Essex, the installation of the Cantabria has provided accessibility too:

“In addition to wind, rain and sun protection to the terraced area, the beautiful Cantabria Canopy enables us to offer disabled access into the restaurant. We get full use of our terrace area no matter the weather.”

Are you a bar or restaurant owner or manager looking to extend your space to seat more covers at a distance? Talk to us about what’s possible.