Brits ready for pubs to reopen

July 4 is the earliest we can hope to see pubs, restaurants and hotels in restricted action again

Schools, open markets and car dealerships (weird combination) are gearing up to reopen from the first of next month in England. Of course, they will all be subject to social distancing, but, at least it’s a step in the right direction.

June 15 should see high street stores and small shops reopen. Good news for the shops, their staff members and the public. All this is provided the rate of infection (the R) does not shoot up again. Fingers and toes crossed!

But what about our pubs and restaurants? That’s where my selfish interests lie (pubs for me) and before all this nonsense started my wife worked in a restaurant. What about them?

Well, according to the BBC website the indications are that they will open on July 4 at the earliest. American Independence Day! Confess that the idea of observing social distancing in a pub is something of an anathema. But, if that’s what it takes. And it’s not just pubs and restaurants. That’s also the earliest date forecast for hairdressers, hotels, cinemas and places of worship. Ah hairdressers, how I could do with a haircut!

The Coach & Horses in Richmond

A new survey indicates that we Brits ready to return to pubs and pub accommodation: 80% said they were ‘pretty comfortable’ to return to pubs post-lockdown. The research also shows that 44% of the over-65s are completely comfortable with visiting a pub for a meal or drink post-lockdown. Appeal of pub accommodation remains firm, with 41% willing to stay overnight. Though those polled said that Covid-19-safe accreditation was fundamental to ensure public confidence.

Stay In A Pub, the largest promoter of pub accommodation in the UK, reveals that it is not last orders for pubs and pub accommodation amongst UK consumers, as almost half of its customers would be ‘completely comfortable’ to stay overnight in pub accommodation after Covid-19 restrictions are eased, according to a new survey carried out.

Stay In A Pub commissioned a survey of its 12,000 registered customers to track sentiment on how confident they would be to visit and stay overnight in pub accommodation – and how they feel that the sector might be able to deal with re-opening pubs with rooms post-lockdown.

When asked on a scale of 0-10 how comfortable they would be to visit a pub for a meal or drink once lockdown had been eased and with appropriate public health and social distancing measures in place, 40% of respondents said that they would be ‘completely comfortable’ (a score of 10) and 79% ‘pretty comfortable’ (a score of more than seven). Just 8% scored five or less i.e. ‘uncomfortable’.

These figures varied somewhat with age: 44% of customers over 65 were ‘completely comfortable’ while only 28% of those aged between 36-45 shared the same opinion. 

When asked how comfortable they would feel about staying overnight in a pub, the confidence is higher at 41% ‘completely comfortable’ and 80% ‘pretty comfortable’, which is optimistic for pubs with rooms. This was particularly among older guests with 45% of those aged 65+ being ‘completely comfortable’ and 84% of 46-55-year-olds ‘pretty comfortable’ if they felt that the public health and social distancing measures were adequate.

Respondents, 95% of whom live in the UK, were also asked what sort of measures they felt would be needed to provide reassurance and the message was loud and clear that they would expect very high standards of hygiene and social distancing measures. But, most importantly, they would need evidence of this through a nationally recognised Covid-19 Safe kite mark or accreditation. There was an expectation that hand sanitisers would be provided both in rooms and public spaces but also that rooms would have ‘cleaning stations’ with antibacterial wipes and other cleaning products for guests to use.

The Chamberlain hotel (it is also a pub) close to Tower Bridge

A significant number would expect staff to where masks and gloves and that there would be at least 24 hours between stays to allow for a period of time after guest departure and for deep cleaning. Other suggestions included bed linen packs at check-in so that guests made up their own rooms, room service meals and only rooms with en-suite facilities being available.

There are 7897 pubs with rooms in the UK and according to the most recent Pub Accommodation Report (conducted by online future hospitality site openings database RPBi Openings). Some 13% of pubs added more rooms in 2019 as an additional source of revenue alongside food and drink leading to an overall 56% growth of revenue in the sector.

The report, which also surveyed customers, discovered that 53% of people would prefer to stay in a pub rather than a branded hotel with business travellers choosing pubs for their relaxing and friendly atmosphere and leisure travellers to enjoy meeting locals and the traditional British experience. Further evidence of this ‘love for the pub’ was the average 30,000 monthly visitors to the Stay in a Pub website (prior to pubs shutting their doors) looking specifically for pubs with accommodation, 16% of whom were from abroad.

Paul Nunny, founding director of Stay In A Pub, said: “Support for our pubs continues with 69% of respondents saying that they would be willing to book and pay now to secure future stays if these included totally flexible cancellations, date changes and refund policies. With the general feeling of uncertainty around when lockdown will ease and the likelihood of a ‘ultra-last minute’ demand this consumer confidence and commitment to future stays presents an opportunity for pubs to promote now through online booking offers and listings on accommodation sites. 

“In the past two weeks we have seen a 39% increase in visitors to our website as interest and demand for domestic travel starts to increase. The hospitality sector is working hard together with the Government to determine guidelines and Covid-19 safe accreditations for re-opening and I believe there is reason to be optimistic about welcoming guests back this summer.”

About Stay in a Pub
Stay in a Pub promotes more than 1,700 boutique pubs with bedrooms, traditional inns, and affordable pub accommodation throughout the UK. The online community was founded in 2013 by Paul Nunny; former managing director of award-winning UK brewer, hotelier and wine merchant, Adnams, director of the British Guild of Beer Writers and CEO of the national beer accreditation Cask Marque. Stay in a Pub has exciting plans to develop the brand and aims to launch a new website this summer.

Sanctuary House in Westminster
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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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