Wetherspoons unveils plans for reopening 875 pubs following lockdown
22 May 2020, 10:25 | Updated: 22 May 2020, 10:38
Wetherspoons has unveiled its plans for reopening pubs after lockdown, including running a reduced menu and bringing in temperature checks for staff.
UK pubs stopped pouring pints on 20 March, four days before the country was forced into lockdown due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
Wetherspoons, which has repeatedly come under criticism over staff pay and closures during the pandemic, confirmed it will open its doors back up to thirsty and hungry customers once given the go-ahead by the relevant UK governments.
Government ministers have already warned that the hospitality sector, which has been hit hard by the crisis, will not fully reopen until July "at the earliest".
The popular pub chain has said it will hire hundreds more full-time staff - two per branch - to cope with the demands of social distancing and will run a reduced menu, which will be published at a later date.
£11 million will be invested in new measures to keep staff safe, including all workers being given face masks, gloves and protective eyewear, which will be compulsory to wear.
Among those will be the introduction of safety screens at bars and counters, plus temperature checks with digital thermometers for staff when they arrive at work.
Customers will also be encouraged to pay via the company's smartphone app or using contactless payments at the bar. However, cash will be accepted.
Screens will be put up in seating areas where it is not possible to separate tables to appropriate distances.
Roughly 10 hand sanitiser units will be put in all pubs for both employees and customers to use.
Workers will also be required to sign a daily health assessment questionnaire to confirm they are fit to work, which will include the temperature testing.
Some staff will dedicate their time towards monitoring the pub at all times and ensuring people maintain social distancing measures. At peak times, there will be someone on the door, while there will be separate entrance and exit doors where possible.
Information will be clearly printed and displayed around the pubs and floor stickers, similar to those used in supermarkets, will be used for entering and leaving.
Each pub will have a member of staff working full time (two or more staff per pub to cover all opening hours) to sanitise all the contact points during opening hours, including door handles, allergen information screens, card payment machines and handrails.
Staff will be told to hand over all drinks by holding the base of the glass and when ordered by the app they will be delivered to the table on a tray and placed on the table using the base of the glass.
Food will be delivered to the table by a member of floor staff.
Sachets of ketchup, mayonnaise, salt and pepper will be used instead of bottles.
The usual opening hours will be in place, which is mostly from 8am to midnight Sunday to Thursday, and 8am to 1am on Friday and Saturday.
Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “At present, the government have not confirmed any reopening date for pubs. However, it is important that we are prepared for any announcement.
“We have spent a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans.
“We have received more than 2,500 suggestions from our staff.
“The safety of our staff and customers is paramount.”