Just as New Zealand reveals that all social distancing measures and limits on mass gatherings will be lifted next week a UK report shows pub capacities could decline by a massive 87% with 2m physical distancing. The distance currently proposed by UK Governments for the hospitality industry.
However pressure is now piling on both the UK and Scottish Governments to reduce the 2m physical distancing requirement to the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended distance of 1m.
Recently published research, commissioned by UK-wide licensed trade organisations, suggest that if 2m is required for typical bars and restaurants the businesses would see a 87% reduction of capacity which would lead to an explosion of job losses.
Dublin-based Knapton Consulting Engineers Chartered Engineers carried out the REPORT ON IMPACT OF OCCUPANCY NUMBERS ON LICENSED PREMISES AS A RESULT OF COVID-19 (UK Version) on behalf of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), in partnership with and amended by Hospitality Ulster and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association for the UK.
Knapton Consulting were engaged to assess the potential reduction of occupancy numbers in Licensed Premises as a result of physical distancing rules from 2m to the WHO recommended distance of 1m.
In summary the report showed that if a premises normal standing capacity was 200 (abiding by Fire Safety Regulations) at WHO’s recommended 1m distancing rules the capacity would be 100 people or 50%. This allowed for a load factor of two people per square meter.
If instead the Government’s suggested 2m physical distancing separation is applied, the occupancy decreased from 200 persons to 25, a decrease to 12.5% of the existing capacity.
It also made assessments on bars and restaurants that had seating capacity. 100m2 Bar/ Lounge Seating with tables for 100 persons at 1m would be able to have 65 persons 65% and at 2m – 34 persons 34%. The full report can be seen here. https://www.theslta.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/CAPACITY-NUMBERS-IMPACT-REPORT..pdf
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association called the results “deeply concerning”.
Chefs and restaurateurs wrote to the First Minister pointing this out last month – Michelin starred Tom Kitchin and Martin Wishart predicted Scotland could lose its international reputation for food and drink if their concerns are ignored.
“Social distancing simply does not work in most restaurants, bars and hotels. If furlough ends and restaurants, bars and hotels are allowed to reopen but with social distancing enforced and no income from major events and festivals, the result will be a tidal wave of business closures and mass redundancies, increasing Scottish unemployment and the strain on the welfare system.”, they said.
While a follow up letter to the First Minister from key companies in the on-trade including Buzzworks, Lisini, Manorview, Caledonia Inns, Signature Pubs and Montpeliers stated, “social distancing at 2m simply does not work in most restaurants, bars and hotels.” Their estimate was that 1/3 of jobs could be lost directly from their businesses and many more indirectly if these measures were implemented.
Meanwhile New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed that she is set to move into level 1 next week which will mean all social distancing measures and limits on mass gatherings will be lifted, but borders will remain closed. The news comes as the country has gone 11 days without a single new case. And New Zealnd in total has only recorded 22 deaths and 1,154 cases since the pandemic began.