One-metre rule would greatly benefit sector, according to hospitality leaders poll

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

One-metre rule hospitality leaders poll lockdown pubs bar restaurants Coronavirus

Related tags Restaurant Public house Coronavirus

The hospitality industry would benefit greatly from the halving of the social distancing rule to one metre, according to the latest weekly Hospitality Leaders Poll by MCA Insight/HIM.

The results, taken from a poll of 400 founders or board level operators across restaurants, pubs and food to go, found that 40% of operators believe their businesses would be viable with a one-metre social distancing rule as opposed to two metres, with a further 36% saying it was a possibility.

For independent restaurant respondents this figure rises, with 43% saying that a one-metre rule could make their business viable.

However, 20% of respondents say the reduced distance wouldn’t make a difference and that many restaurants wouldn’t be able to operate at all under any social distancing measures.

“A lot of restaurants will not be viable with any kind of social distancing, neither will pubs,” according to one respondent. “Coffee shops and cafés will be decimated. Only takeaways will survive, and converting a high end restaurant to a takeaway business is not going to work for many.”

“I still feel happier to open when no social distancing measures are deemed necessary - it is too hard to regulate social distancing in our environment,” says a pub operator.

Earlier this week, BrewDog said that the halving of the social distancing to one metre​, a distance that was being used in other countries in which its bars were operating again, would be "much more practical" and that two metres "was very difficult".

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which represents the pub industry, has also said many pubs would struggle to open under current guidelines and has instead called for the UK to follow the one metre distance suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO)​.

Respondents in the poll say that clarity over guidelines is needed to allow businesses to start to plan for reopening. “Being in Limbo is extremely tough,” says another respondent, with another saying: “The key thing for the sector is to get clarity on the social distancing requirements as soon as possible.”

In terms of when pubs and restaurants believe they can reopen, 55% of respondents say they are still unclear if they can begin opening on the 4 July until more specific guidelines are released.

However, 17% of businesses plan to reopen fully on the 4 July, while 14% of operators say they plan to open partially on that date.

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