From this Saturday, 4 July, pubs and restaurants across Wokingham Borough will begin to reopen their doors, and those rushing out to enjoy a pint or a spot of dinner will find a very different experience to the norm waiting for them.
Landlords and restaurateurs are putting in a huge amount of effort behind the scenes to prepare for their long-awaited reopening, closely following guidelines to ensure their customers stay safe and can adhere to social distancing requirements. They can’t wait to welcome back their regulars and newcomers, whilst being mindful of managing customers’ expectations with regards to what to expect.
Planning ahead will be key, with many pubs taking advance bookings. Pre-booking will be particularly important at weekends, when venues are expecting demand to be high. Capacity will be limited in all venues and customers will only be able to enter the premises once a table is available, so queueing to get in may be necessary for those who don’t have a reservation. Instead of being served at the bar, drinks will be ordered from tables via an app or waiter service, and there may be a time limit on how long tables can be reserved for. Additional outdoor seating will be available at some venues and, in most cases, contactless payment will be necessary. Venues will be required to record customers’ contact details to assist with NHS track and trace, and systems will be in place to enable this.
Social distancing guidelines will be enforced, with all venues maintaining 2 metres between tables where possible, or 1 metre plus other mitigating factors such as Perspex screens where 2 metres isn’t possible. Toilets will be managed, with many operating a one-in, one-out system, and additional hygiene measures will be in place. To ensure the safety of all customers, a zero tolerance view will be taken towards any customers breaching the guidelines.
Anyone planning to head out in Wokingham Borough this weekend is encouraged to read the latest guidance on social distancing and mixing with other households: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing-after-4-july
Opening hours may be shorter than the public are used to, with some pubs opting to close early initially, and some choosing not to open at all yet. Events such as live music are off the agenda for now, but fun and togetherness are most certainly on the agenda, and it is hoped the reopening of the hospitality sector will bring our community together in a way that’s been sorely missed in recent months.
Executive member for business and economic development Cllr Stuart Munro, explains: “We have been working closely with Thames Valley Police, our town and parish councils, Wokingham Business Association, Love Wokingham, Twyford Together, Woodley Town Centre and the licensees of pubs and restaurants across the borough to plan the safe reopening of our hospitality industry. We want to reassure the public that is safe to come together to drink and dine in all our venues, and we hope everyone approaches the reopening with a sense of kindness, understanding, and shared social responsibility.
“Our partners at Thames Valley Police and the Public Protection Partnership will be out and about on Saturday, particularly in Wokingham town centre, to support our local businesses by ensuring they have all of the appropriate measures in place and also to reassure our residents that it’s safe to come back into town.
“Pre-planning your pub or restaurant visit is crucial – not only to check whether your chosen venue will be opening, but also to find out whether you need to reserve a table and understand any systems the venue has in place to keep you safe. We expect to see high demand for pubs particularly in our town and village centres this weekend and we strongly advise booking in advance.”