After over 100 days of closure, restaurants, pubs, and cafes in England were permitted to reopen for customers inside their venues on Saturday.
After the eagerly awaited lifting of lockdown restrictions on businesses that rely on bustling rooms, social proximity, and service at close-quarters, new Covid-secure safety guidance recommends that staff wear face masks, temperatures are taken on arrival, sanitiser is provided, and physical distancing is implemented with markings applied to floors. It is a reality that will become a part of hospitality for the foreseeable future.
The public is beginning to return to the places they enjoyed before the pandemic and businesses are adjusting. While scenes from Saturday night in Soho have circulated, they have possibly given a false impression of demand for the reopened hospitality venues across the city. The reality for many restaurants and pubs was a gentle easing into what was just the first day in a new, and potentially long, phase of uncertainty.
Here’s what it looked like on the ground this weekend at pubs, restaurants and cafes in Victoria, Bermondsey, the City, London Bridge, and Hackney.
Owner Mitshel Ibrahim, centre, at Ombra in Hackney with staff in face masks on the first day of reopening the dining room to the public.
Guests gather on the pavement outside the Shipwrights Arms in Bermondsey on Saturday.
Customers wait outside Roasting Plant on London Bridge.
Customers drink a coffee while wearing face masks outside Roasting Plant on London Bridge.
A bartender wears a face mask at Homeslice in the City.
Staff wear masks and a sign welcomes customers back after lockdown at Homeslice.
A sparse dining room in the Bloomberg Arcade on Saturday after over three months of closure.
Ombra, an Italian restaurant in Hackney has introduced a separate exit from a side door in the restaurant and put a host in charge of directing customers to their tables or to the deli for takeaway items, which remain in place on shelves. Ombra remained open for takeaway fresh pasta, provisions, and wine throughout the whole of lockdown.
Guests’ hands were sanitised on entering Ombra on Saturday evening.
A group gathered outside the Marksman on Hackney Road on Saturday afternoon.
Floor markings have been applied to the floor outside the Marksman to encourage physical distancing.
Tables are spaced and floor markings applied to encourage distancing inside the Marksman Public House.
A waiter at Peggy Porschen in Belgravia wears a face mask and gloves while taking an order.
Physical distancing markings have been affixed to the floor of the cafe to encourage customer spacing when collecting.