Wetherspoons & Greene King reveal the ‘new normal’ for pubs

Supermarket-style queues, Perspex screens and ‘pub hosts’ will greet customers waiting to enjoy their first pub pint in over three months after some of the big players this week outlined their plans for reopening.

British pub chains Wetherspoons, Greene King and McMullens have released plans for how their outlets will look as they gear up to reopen in England on July 4 along with hundreds of local establishments.

One indepedent pub, the Gloucester Old Spot, said they were “all guns blazing” for the reopening, but still need clarity over the Government guidance beyond the new one-metre rule.

Surrey Comet:

Last week we spoke to the landlord of the King’s Arms, a popular pub in Bexley, who said he was excited but nervous about entering a new world than the one they left.

So what can people expect under the “new normal”? Here’s a breakdown.

– Signing in

Many publicans have said they will be operating a pre-booking system to control customer numbers, and expect supermarket-style queues at the door.

Brewer Greene King said it will be introducing a “pub host”, who will manage the queues, greet customers from one metre away, and show them to their tables.

– Ordering a pint

Wetherspoons and Greene King have said customers will be encouraged to use phone apps to order and pay for drinks, to avoid people congregating at the bar.

Both chains have also said their bars will be fitted with Perspex screens, hand sanitisers, and floor stickers indicating a one-way system for moving around the pub.

Surrey Comet:

– Eating in

Following the Government’s reduction of the two-metre social distancing restriction, pubs will be spacing tables at least one metre apart.

McMullen’s, which owns more than 130 pubs in the UK, has said some tables will be out of use to provide additional space, and opening times and menus will be “slightly reduced”.

Along with other industry leaders, trade body UKHospitality (UKH) put forward proposals to ministers, including that customers should be served individually-wrapped sauces and condiments rather than sharing bottles.

Some pubs have said they will be handing out one-time-use menus which customers can take away or dispose of at the venue.

Surrey Comet:

– Using the toilet

Cleaners will be on hand in pub toilets, and Greene King has said its cleaners will be refreshing the facilities every 15 minutes.

It added that a “pub safe monitor” will be cleaning surfaces and tables, and customers will be asked to flip “one in, one out” red and green indicators at the entrance to toilets with their elbow as they enter and leave.

– ‘New normal’ for bartenders and servers

Wetherspoons staff will be undergoing temperature checks and filling in health questionnaires before each shift and could be wearing masks, gloves, and eye protection.

When they serve drinks, they will only be touching the bottom of the glass in order to avoid transmission via the surface.

McMullen’s joint managing director Heydon Mizon said their staff will also be taking “daily team health checks”.

– Final orders?

The Government has not yet said whether there will be a limit on the number of drinks one person can buy.

A spokesman for Wetherspoons said staff will ensure “customers are served responsibly”, although they hinted there would be no limit on the number of orders a customer can make.

“Before lockdown you couldn’t order three pints for yourself at one time and that will be the case now,” they said.

Mr Mizon said McMullen’s will also “operate as usual”.

“We will serve people within the licensing criteria, with the pub being the safest controlled environment for responsible drinking – and long may it continue,” he said.

Surrey Comet | Kingston