There has been much debate about the reopening of the hospitality sector in the press lately, among many the alteration to the current two metre distancing rule as well as the many changes bars, pubs and restaurants will have to make to ensure a safe opening for staff and patrons. The implementation of software is obviously high on the list of priorities for establishments but what about the provision of PPE and physical social distancing measures? We spoke to Jonathan Davies, Director of Maintenance at Dale Building Maintenance to find out what measures are being adopted by the industry and how Dale’s role has changed whilst assisting their clients in this uncertain time. Dale is a Building Maintenance and Insurance restoration firm that work for a number of clients across the hospitality sector.
When asked about the type of PPE Dale are installing, Jonathan explained that each client has their own requirements specific to their individual needs however, everyone shares the same end goal of keeping patron’s and staff safe. Dale are currently supplying safety screens to clients to help support the social distancing measures outlined by the government. The safety screens are bespoke and built to individual needs to ensure that a distance can be maintained but the same service pre – coronavirus still delivered. Hand sanitisers and custom-built sanitiser stations are also a popular product with automatic dispensers to reduce touch points and ensure hygiene standards. Alongside this, custom made floor stickers have been designed and supplied to ensure that safety measures are clear and concise.
“We have made these stickers to the brand needs for instance, a UK chain asked us to produce stickers in the shape of a tooth so that children visiting the dentist would be able to view the simple safety message. “This is like nothing we have ever delivered before and we have had to adapt very quickly”, states Jonathan.
‘Covid 19 has tested a lot of our decision making” continues Jonathan. It is clear from our conversation that Dale has had to revisit communication methods, not only to employees but clients alike. As many staff have been working from home, clear guidelines have been set in place to ensure ‘business as normal’. Jonathan explains that the number of employees in the office has been limited and that jobs that would normally take a small amount of time are now taking longer due to safety measures. Meetings are being carried out via zoom and video conferencing to reduce unnecessary travel and face to face encounters. Tradesman who visit establishments have had to adapt how they communicate with the central office staff and whilst on site, risk assessments are undertaken vigorously to ensure the health and comfort of all.
When asked what social distancing measures bars and restaurants are planning on implementing, Jonathan explained that they are currently working with a large national pub chain to provide distancing measures.
“We are creating booths with fixed mahogany screens so that the brand still looks and feels the same but there are safety measures in place, a lot of thought has gone into this.”
It is clear that there is a balancing act as the venues still need to deliver their USP whether that is atmosphere, surrounding environment, food and beverages to entice patrons through the door but still ensure that they meet the safety guidelines as outlined by the government. Jonathan worries that this will be a massive challenge to some of the smaller establishments who do not have space as a luxury. Jonathan explains that a smaller regional chain is trying to make use of the outdoor space that they have, beer gardens, installing gazebo’s and purchasing patio heaters to ensure comfort and safety are among some of ideas. This is fine whilst the weather is warm but if this pandemic stretches into the winter or a second wave hits, these measures will have to be adapted. A mobile screen prototype has been supplied by the company that can be moved inside and out and placed around a table where people are sitting or standing to produce a barrier to reduce the spread of infection. It is very clear that venues are being creative in their approach at stopping the spread and battling to open their doors.
Jonathan says that “the pubs and restaurants that we knew before the pandemic will be totally different and only time will tell as to how many will come through this”, adding “the processes we have adopted will remain in place for years to come and have changed how we work”.
As the country battles through the easing of lockdown, it is apparent that there will be more changes to come.