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Staff in masks at Ombra in Hackney, east London, on Saturday evening, the first day of reopening for restaurants after the coronavirus lockdown in England
Staff in masks at Ombra in Hackney on Saturday evening, the first day of reopening
Michaël Protin

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London’s First Weekend of Restaurant Reopening, in Pictures

Hospitality venues turn to face masks, physical distancing, and sanitising after reopening for customers on Saturday

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.

Two restaurant staff wear masks at Ombra in London Michaël Protin

Guests gather on the pavement outside the Shipwrights Arms in Bermondsey on Saturday.

Ejatu Shaw

Customers wait outside Roasting Plant on London Bridge.

Ejatu Shaw

Customers drink a coffee while wearing face masks outside Roasting Plant on London Bridge.

Ejatu Shaw

A bartender wears a face mask at Homeslice in the City.

Masked staff behind a terrazzo countertop putting in an order on a till at Homeslice Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Staff wear masks and a sign welcomes customers back after lockdown at Homeslice.

Ejatu Shaw

A sparse dining room in the Bloomberg Arcade on Saturday after over three months of closure.

Ejatu Shaw

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.

Spending in neighbourhood restaurants like Ombra in Hackney is higher than in central London since the coronavirus pandemic forced Londoners to stay at home through lockdown Michaël Protin/Eater London

Guests’ hands were sanitised on entering Ombra on Saturday evening.

Two diners sanitise their hands at Ombra restaurant in east London Michaël Protin/Eater London

A group gathered outside the Marksman on Hackney Road on Saturday afternoon.

Socially distanced outdoor drinkers at the Marksman on Hackney Road, east London Michaël Protin

Floor markings have been applied to the floor outside the Marksman to encourage physical distancing.

Michaël Protin
Michaël Protin

Tables are spaced and floor markings applied to encourage distancing inside the Marksman Public House.

Diners eat in at a restaurant opening in London Michaël Protin

A waiter at Peggy Porschen in Belgravia wears a face mask and gloves while taking an order.

Ejatu Shaw

Physical distancing markings have been affixed to the floor of the cafe to encourage customer spacing when collecting.

Ejatu Shaw


1 Vyner Street, , England E2 9DG 020 8981 5150 Visit Website

Marksman Public House

254 Hackney Road, , England E2 7SJ Visit Website


254 Hackney Rd, London, Greater London E2 7SJ +44 20 7739 7393 Visit Website