UK government starts to outline how food & drink outlets might start to reopen

I welcome the government starting to think about this for England (responsibilities for the other three nations lie with their devolved governments). However, if their policies depend on outdoor space (as Gove has referred to) it is going to be a disaster. The vast majority of places do not have outdoor space. We also live on this small, cold, wet island off the coast of Northern Europe - it is not the Mediterranean, where the weather is much kinder.


Here in Philadelphia, the plan is to reopen outdoor dining on June 5. There are plenty of establishments with outdoor seating, though with the distancing requirements capacity will be greatly reduced. As a result, most of these restaurants are requiring reservations, which didn’t use to be necessary. As a heat-averse person here in an area with hot and humid summers, not sure how much I’ll engage in this. The two things that most concern the restaurateurs (at least those quoted in the local paper) is rain and restroom usage–one joked that they may have to implement the “hall pass” approach to allow diners indoors to use the facilities.

We have ten eating or drinking places in the village. The two traditional pubs both have outdoor space. But the four bars and four restaurants are all enclosed.

Spain may have the answer to the “safe visit to the toilet” question. Their current “state of emergency” regulations state "“Using masks will be compulsory on the street, in open spaces and any closed place of public use, when it is not possible to maintain a safe distance of at least two metres”. So, perfectly fine to sit outside at your table having a drink or a meal but put your mask on when you need to go inside.

The Spain solution sounds reasonable; unfortunately Americans have proven to be less-than-compliant wearing masks.

I also wonder about a local place that opened just a few months before the lockdown. It has a large room and bar enclosed. But then another room and bar, separated from the main room by doors. This room is enclosed by floor-to-ceiling windows that can be opened to allow for an outdoor dining experience, but the ceiling is of course permanent. I wonder if they’ll be allowed to open that room–the restrooms happen to be located in that part of the restaurant and the roof would remove the worry of rain. Now that I think of it, there are 3 local restaurants that have this set-up. I guess I’ll find out how they handle this situation next week?

There are several places in the city that have rooftop bars whose owners are wary of allowing access because of the need to use elevators for access. They can of course limit the number of people on the elevator, but the logistics of sanitizing the cars after every trip seems problematic–ferry 2 people up, sanitize, ferry 2 people down, sanitize. A slow way to fill the bar and likely resulting in lines which will complicate distancing.

Such places are something of a long standing issue in Spain. Bars will generally try to argue that it is an outside space - as smoking is allowed in outside spaces. I’m not sure of the details but I think the argument usually rests on whether it’s an integral part of the original building, that may have been adapted, or is an extension.

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Wow, smoking in an outdoor dining room? I think I remember that.