'Welcome back - you’ve been sorely missed' - UKH pens letter to returning hospitality customers

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

'Welcome back - you’ve been sorely missed' - UKH pens letter to returning hospitality customers

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Ahead of the reopening of the hospitality sector in England tomorrow (4 July), UKHospitality has written an open letter to customers, welcoming them back after 15 weeks of lockdown.

The letter makes customers aware of the measures that businesses will have implemented in order to deliver a safe reopening as well as any changes customers should expect to notice.

It also highlights how customers can play their part to ensure that reopening is safe, successful and enjoyable.

“It would be an understatement to say the past few months have been a challenge for our sector," says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

"Venues in England are very excited to be welcoming back customers from the 4th, but clearly that is also going to present some challenges.

“Businesses are conscious of the important role they will play in ensuring the safety of staff and customers, as much as they are aware that they are likely still not out of the woods economically. It is vital that this reopening is safe, successful and helps to imbue confidence among customers.

“Our customers also have a huge role to play - success depends on cooperation. Everything must run as smoothly as possible in order to ensure that everyone is kept safe and any further potential closures, which nobody wants and could be terminal for some of our favourite venues, are avoided.

“We hope that our open letter will give customers clarity about what to expect of venues and what is expected of them. We want to reassure them that every effort is being made to make sure their visit to a pub, café or restaurant will be the best it can possibly be.”

The letter in full

Dear Hospitality Customers,

welcome back - you’ve been sorely missed!

Our sector is all about providing great experiences to you away from your home and we are looking forward to doing so again over the coming days, weeks and months, having been unable to do so for so long. As businesses that thrive on welcoming guests this has been incredibly difficult, both emotionally and financially. We’ve seen pubs, restaurants and nightclubs with their doors shuttered; hotels, holiday parks and hostels have been bereft of those in need of somewhere to sleep away from home. Coffee shops and some other businesses have offered takeaway and delivery services but it’s no substitute for having people in our premises.

As we begin to safely return in England from 4th July we wanted to give you an update: on what we have been doing to make our venues as safe as possible; on changes that you might expect to see; and what you can do to help us beat the virus, and ensure we don’t all face a second miserable lockdown.

Creating a safe return

Your safety, and that of our staff, is our primary concern. We have worked tirelessly as an industry and as individual businesses to ensure our venues our as safe as they can possibly be. We have consulted with Government throughout this period as they developed safer opening guidance. As a sector we have gone beyond that and created specific advice for each part of hospitality.

Based on this guidance each and every venue will carry out a bespoke risk assessment, tailored to their individual property. Staff are being trained in new ways of working, to protect their customers and themselves.

Things will look and feel a bit different

To create the right environment businesses have made adjustments to how they look and operate, so you will notice changes. While protecting your safety is our priority, we have also strived to maintain the level of hospitality our customers value so that you want to return, time after time.

For a start, not all businesses will be open from 4th July. The changes necessary take time and many will give themselves time to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and ensure that they get it right. As with shops there may be changes to ordinary opening hours, and some may choose not to open on certain days. We will do our best to communicate this to customers through websites, social media and direct communication.

Some businesses will only take pre-bookings, to help manage the number of people in venues. It’s worth checking before your local pub or restaurant’s policy before you visit.

Things will probably look a little different inside, too. Bar service is permitted in some circumstances, but most outlets will be either offering orders from the table or via an app. Your usual table may not be where it was before, either, as we’ve had to reconfigure the furniture to meet social distancing guidelines. And sitting at the bar is unlikely unless staff can be protected.

You will also be asked for your contact details as part of our support for the NHS track and trace system. This will be carried out in different ways in different places but will be as in-obtrusive as possible. This will only be used for track and trace, unless permission is otherwise given. Where we collect the data for a booking, we will aim to use that as evidence you’re here.

Playing your part

To coin a phrase, we are all in this together: we need you to play your part in our joint battle against the virus. The consequences of getting the unlocking of hospitality wrong are unthinkable: most seriously, a spike in virus cases causing ill-health to our friends, families and communities; and, secondly, the real threat of local and national lockdowns, removing your freedoms, shutting down our businesses and job losses.

But we can avoid this if we work together. Here are some tips to how we can do just that:

  • Play by the (new) rules – all of our venues have had to put new rules in place to protect your health and fight the virus. We appreciate some of these might make your visit a little different to usual but they are genuinely there to help, please abide by the rules and help staff to keep us all safe.
  • Be patient – these conditions are new to all of us and it will take time to adjust. Staff have been trained but we’ve not had customers for 15 weeks so we might be a bit rusty.
  • Give us your number – To support the NHS we have been asked to collect our customers’ information to help with track and trace. Please show understanding – we all feel a little uneasy at sharing personal details, and it’s a hassle for staff to collect it, but please remember that this is for the greater good.
  • Give us a call – opening days and times may vary, and you might need to pre-book. We’d advise referring to websites or social media, or to phone in advance. We don’t want to disappoint you.
  • Keep it clean – the simple best advice to fight against the virus is still to wash your hands (sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in your head, please!) and use the hand sanitiser available in venues.
  • Don’t stand too close … to the bar or other people – while social distancing remains in place, it is important to keep your distance as much as possible from other customers and our staff. Stay clear of the bar as much as possible, please.
  • Stay at home – we want you to visit our venues but if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus (a new, continuous cough, a high temperature and/or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), then please heed NHS advice: stay at home and get well soon.
  • Pick your friends wisely – rules are in place about who and how many people you can socialise with. Familiarise yourself with the rules and please abide by them. At present you can be with your household and one other household group indoors, and up to six people from different households if you’re outside and socially distanced.
  • Stop shouting –shouting and singing should be avoided as they increase the risk of spreading the virus. So our venues might be a quieter than normal.
  • Appy hour –a lot of businesses will use ordering apps. Before visiting, why not download the app and familiarise yourself with it. This will give you a sneak preview of what we have on offer and ensure you can start to enjoy your visit as soon as you arrive.
  • Tap, tap, tap – contactless payment will be more commonplace, and some businesses may not accept cash, as a safety precaution. Please be prepared to pay by contactless card or smartphone payment.

We are very excited to be welcoming our customers back after 15 weeks of lockdown. We have put measures in place to keep you safe and, working together, we can make a great success of the new normal in pubs, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, holiday parks and the rest of the glorious hospitality sector.

Welcome back!

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