‘I’m really anxious about reopening’, says B&B owner
This year, 4 July will hold a different kind of celebration as a range of hospitality and similar firms in England will finally allowed to reopen for business.
But with government guidance still not clear and social distancing rules look set to change, how prepared are they?
The BBC spoke to a pub, a salon and a B&B to find out how ready they are for the next phase of the easing of lockdown.
“I’m feeling really anxious about reopening as I just don’t know what’s coming.”
Lindsey Holland runs the Cleeve Hill Hotel, a 12-bedroom B&B in Gloucestershire.
She runs the business on her own and worries that reopening rules may make that impossible.
“I’m going to be really interested to see how much I’m going to be allowed to achieve by myself, when I have to switch from cooking to cleaning, for instance.”
Many B&B staples will disappear, not least the buffet breakfast.
“I’ve heard that breakfasts may have to be delivered to rooms, which isn’t practical for me as a one-person business.
“I also can’t afford to buy room service trays.”
Free magazines and the help-yourself minibar will also have to go.
Lindsey reckons she could open half of the hotel if the social distancing rule was 2m, but up to three quarters if it was 1m.
“If I am allowed to provide breakfast in the dining room, then I’m limited to how many people I can serve under the rules,” she explains.
And if bookings don’t pick up then it may not be worth her while opening the doors at all in July, she warns.
“4 July is just two weeks away and we’re only now getting bits of pieces of details of what the rules may be.
“Even if I do reopen and we have enough bookings, a second wave could mean the end for us.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time during lockdown getting ready for the new normal.”
Simon Daws has run the Gloucester Old Spot pub in Cheltenham for a decade, but recent times have been his biggest challenge, he says.
“We’ve been waiting for news of when we can reopen with different dates being bandied around, which hasn’t been helpful.
“We really need more notice than a couple of weeks to get the right beer in and get staff back from furlough, but we want people to come back to the pub.”
He says the pub industry is desperate to reopen for business and cutting the social distance rules to 1m is crucial.
“If the distance is 1m then pubs with generous garden areas can make a go of it,” he says.
His pub has room for 160 people outside but they’ve had change things to prepare for reopening.
“We don’t need plastic screens as people won’t come into the pub. Instead we’re switching to a continental style of service with our staff taking orders on a handheld device and using disposable menus to reduce the risk to customers,” he says.
Even then, he’s not confident that reopening will be a success.
“We will be walking a tightrope. We are relying on sunny weather to make the new system work.”
He is also worried about rumours that customers will have to book a table and supply the names of everyone on the table.
“It’s just putting more hurdles in our way, which is not good news for an industry that’s on its knees.”
“We’re hoping to be ready to open on 4 July but the guidelines keep changing so we don’t know yet what we need to do to open safely – or what kind of protective equipment will be necessary.”
Jo Dyer runs Plymouth hairdressing salon Yoke with husband Steve.
The salon plans to reopen with half of its eight stations to ensure clients remain a safe distance from each other.
Opening hours will be extended to cover 08:00-20:00 every day except for Sunday to accommodate as many customers as possible, even with half as many stations and stylists available.
Meanwhile clients will only have contact with one person, with stylists washing hair instead of apprentices.
“We’ve taken no bookings yet but once we have some clarity I hope to book appointments in for the first week,” says Jo, although those wanting hair colouring will have to book in for a skin test first.
They are waiting to find out what protective equipment they will need.
“We don’t know what grade facemasks we’ve got to have or what kind of gloves we need, given we’re washing our hands constantly in normal times.
“We have some cloth facemasks but they may not fit in with the guidelines.”
Staff and customer safety will be paramount, she says, which means throwaway gowns instead of their normal eco-wear.
“It goes against our ethical principles, but we’re going to have to compromise to stay within the rules, it seems,” Jo says.