This week health secretary Sajid Javid took to the podium to confirm that ‘Freedom Day’will go ahead as planned and many of the coronavirus measures we now consider ‘the new normal’ will be scrapped entirely.
This means that from the 19th of July, will once again fellow punters be able to fearlessly rub shoulders as they order drinks at the bar. But, although social distancing and rules of six are being thrown out the window, it doesn’t mean we can get together and drink care-free.
In fact, six rules may remain in your local, even past Freedom Day. This is because, while COVID measures may no longer be legal requirements, many will still be enforceable at the discretion of landlords and business owners.
Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, announced: ‘It is important that everyone understands that July 19 will not see face coverings and hand sanitiser disappearing from all workplaces, businesses and venues.’
Although there may be changes, many businesses will be keeping in place some of the measures that have become familiar over the last 12 months, including face coverings in certain circumstances.
So, what measures can we expect to remain in place?
1. Face masks
While face masks will soon be voluntary, guidance is now encouraging venues to consider encouraging their use, ‘particularly in indoor areas where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet.’
The guidance continues to add that this advice is ‘especially important in enclosed and crowded spaces.’
2. Checking in
Businesses and customers will also be encouraged to continue using QR codes to sign into pubs and bars with the NHS COVID-19 app. This will not be legally enforced but would essentially aid in the tracking of outbreaks.
Venues that choose to keep their QR sign-ins will also be required to maintain a manual log to collect and store ‘names and contact details for those who ask to check in but do not have the app.’
3. Opening windows and outdoor seating
Venues will need to ensure the premise has adequate ventilation inside through the use of open windows and doors or by aircon systems designed not to recirculate the air.
The advice also encourages bars and pubs to identify ‘areas of congestion’ and consider steps to avoid it, meaning that outdoor seating will continue to be pressed for patrons.
Honestly, with the summer heat, we aren’t too mad about these rules.
4. Lingering at the bar
On July 19th, many of us will no doubt be clamouring to order our first drinks at the bar in what feels like far too long. However, after you’ve collected your beverage, you may not be allowed to lean on it afterwards.
The new advice suggests that staff crackdown on customers who tend to lean at the bar in order to minimise the number of surfaces they touch.
One-way foot-traffic systems may also remain in place to regulate the flow of customers and limit any potential contact.
5. Staff teams and plastic screens
While social distancing will soon be scrapped, bars and pubs will still be encouraged to limit contact between staff. This will be done by splitting staff into fixed teams to ensure no unnecessary mingling takes place. Staff could also be encouraged to work beside each other or back to back instead of face to face.
Plastic screens that separate staff and customers may also be here to stay if doing so wouldn’t impact ventilation.
6. Sanitiser stations
The new guidance recommends that sanitiser stations and signage stay put, ‘advising customers and workers to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser frequently.'
Tables should also be cleaned often ‘particularly important before and after touching shared objects or surfaces that other people touch regularly.’
We kind of hope staff are washing their hands regardless of the COVID measures...