JD Wetherspoon is to invest an initial £11m to ensure that its staff and customers are safe before its pubs reopen.
Social distancing measures will result in the employment of two full time staff per pub, slightly more for bigger pubs, who will regularly clean surfaces and touch points throughout the pubs.
The company will open its 875 pubs across the UK and Republic of Ireland, when it has the official go-ahead from the relevant governments.
It has undertaken extensive employee consultation and has also consulted with many of its suppliers and contractors, as well as referring to UK Hospitality guidelines to draw up its plans.
All staff will receive a full briefing and training on the new way of running the pubs.
The safety measures are as follows:
• All of its pubs will have screens at the till point. There will also be screens to create seating areas where it is not possible to separate the tables to the social distancing requirement.
• Wetherspoon will provide gloves, masks and protective eyewear. Employees can elect whether to wear them or not, subject to government guidelines.
• There will be an average ten hand sanitiser dispensers around the pub, including at the entrance for customers and staff to use.
• Every employee will need to complete and sign a daily health assessment questionnaire to confirm that they are fit to work. This will include having their temperature taken using a digital thermometer.
• Dedicated staff will monitor the pub at all times in order to maintain social distancing standards and there will be a member of staff on the door at peak times.
• The pubs will use one entrance with a separate exit door where possible. Customer entry and exit will be marked out by floor stickers and/or barriers and there will be clear printed information providing guidance to customers as they enter the pubs.
• 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. These will include door handles, allergen information screens, card payment machines and hand rails.
• Customers will be asked to use the Wetherspoon order and pay app, wherever possible, or pay at the bar using a credit/debit card and contactless, although cash will be accepted.
• Staff will hand over all drinks 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.
• The pubs will also offer a slightly reduced menu and will provide sachets (ketchup, mayonnaise, salt pepper etc), rather than their usual condiment bottles.
They will be open their usual opening hours, which on average is 8am to midnight (Sunday to Thursday) and 8am to 1am (Friday and Saturday).
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.”
Wetherspoon has an average customer area of almost 4,000 square foot, and almost 700 of its pubs have either a beer garden, roof garden/terrace or outside patio area.