Boris Johnson is set to announce his coronavirus lockdown reopening roadmap on Monday 22 February. For London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars, the week preceding it was dominated by clamour: on what reopening after lockdown will look like; the extent of COVID-19 restrictions; and the financial support Rishi Sunak’s Budget will offer to cushion them on 3 March.
- Where there is a government announcement on the coronavirus pandemic, there are leaks. And lo, Boris Johnson’s coronavirus reopening roadmap leaked — detailing that restaurants and pubs will likely return in May, with household restrictions and social distancing imposed on both indoor and outdoor dining.
- Those social distancing restrictions should last for the “foreseeable future,” according to some scientists. That means restaurant, pub, cafe, and bar trade will be restricted, and so chancellor Rishi Sunak will remain under pressure to make up for the lost revenue and avert business closures and job losses. It seems that rent protections are already going to be extended. Meanwhile, encouraging data on the impact of Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines on coronavirus transmission in the U.K. could mean that “foreseeable future” may be closer than previously thought.
- Sunak kicked off his pre-Budget PR push with a conversation with Gordon Ramsay. It contained some revealing tidbits for restaurant workers, and also showed up many of the weaknesses in the government’s understanding of the restaurant ecosystem. It also reinforced the fact that, belatedly but promisingly, Sunak and prime minister Boris Johnson are finally singing from the same hymn sheet on reopening.
- With the reopening roadmap and the Budget comes clamour: clamour for reopening; clamour about reopening; clamour about what reopening looks like. The week began with pub bosses accusing the government of “disrespect” over their planning, taking the position that the “Great British Pub” should reopen as soon as possible. That’s one side of the clamour: that positive vaccine news means casting off restrictions entirely, casting them as a shackle on liberties.
- Another side is what to do about vaccines. Passports for individuals seem off the cards (as off the cards as any piece of government policy can have been this year) but vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi suggested this week that it would be up to individual businesses to decide what measures they want to take.
- And when they do reopen, they look set to be joined by an American spicy chicken nugget stunt merchant. Wendy’s is expected to open restaurants in London after establishing itself in Reading and Oxford.
- And before they do reopen, one of lockdown’s greatest hits will deliver a star-studded takeaway and delivery pizza guest series. ASAP Pizza, based out of Flor in Borough Market, will get Quality Wines’ Nick Bramham; Lisa Lov of Tiger Mom in Copenhagen, and um, Aziz Ansari, to do guest pies. Master of None cameo, bag secured.
- Chef Alyn Williams won an unfair dismissal case against his former employer, The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair. The case is a tale of Michelin-starred football, stolen hot sauce, and 14 sugar cubes.
- Chefs and diners used Instagram to remind people that, in 2021 especially, Lunar New Year celebrations are about solidarity and respect as much as they are about eating.
Dining guides for staying in this weekend...
- How to ship a taste of London’s restaurants nationwide, with kits including suya, udon, and Parsi biryani.
- Order from London’s best restaurants without the apps.
- The best meal kits for Valentine’s Day at home.
- What Soho’s finest are doing in lockdown.
- The best restaurants for delivery and takeaway.
- The best meal kits from London restaurants.
- What London’s standout 38 restaurants are doing right now.
- Where to find fish and chips for the weekly ritual.
- Some top sushi for takeaway.
- The best bakeries in London for takeaway pastries and bread.
- 10 brilliant burgers for lockdown.
And where to order takeaway and delivery in...
- Central London.
- North London.
- West London.
- East London.
- South east London.
- South west London.
- Where to buy produce, meat, fish, pantry items, wine, and beer.
- Some gear to make great coffee at home.
- And some gear to wear: tees, totes, mugs. #Gear
Until next week, eat well and be safe.