'Excited but apprehensive' to welcome people back to the pub
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A DALE landlady says she is “excited but apprehensive” about opening to the public at the weekend following the further easing of lockdown restrictions.
Nichola Swinburn, who runs the popular pub and restaurant the Fox and Hounds, in Cotherstone, admits there are quite a few changes to take on board.
She said: “We have to move forward and I feel we have been incredibly lucky that the Government has helped pay the way for so long.
“We’re pleased to be able to open again, but the most important thing is to keep staff and customers safe and make them feel safe.
“My girls are keen to get back, but apprehensive because it’s going to be different. It will improve but it is a change.”
Customers will be required to sign in to ensure there is a method to track and trace should anyone visiting show symptoms of the virus.
She said: “It’s not just a case of putting a sheet of paper out and asking for people’s names and address because we have to consider the data protection act."
Her solution is to have customers write their details on a tear-off slip and deposit in a box. At the end of each day, the box contents will be transferred to a sealed bag and kept for 21 days.
One of the biggest changes will be no seating at the bar and customers will be asked to remain in their allocated seating area with drinks and food served at the table.
A one-way system through the pub is also being put in place with customers entering at the front and exiting from the rear.
Ms Swinburn added: “It’s just getting to grips with the 40 pages of guidance and looking at all the pinch-points.
“We’re going to be limiting the opening hours and have put together a trimmed down menu, but we’ve already had bookings for Sunday lunch.”
Screens will be fitted at the bars and front of house staff will wear full face visors. In addition, laminated menus will feature some of the guidelines on the reverse to ensure customers understand the new rules.
“Communication is important and as long as everyone realises these changes are new to us as well then I think we should be okay,” she added.
“But if anyone feels uncomfortable, we hope they will let us know because the point is to make people feel safe.
“It isn’t going to be the same to begin with, but it will get better,” she said.
“Not everyone is going to want to be inside yet and we’ve got a huge car park and it means there will be additional seating under cover but outside. But it’s about locals reconnecting in their local. The Fox and Hounds isn’t my pub, it’s the village’s pub.”