Although many in the on-trade may not wish to even contemplate it, the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in the UK combined with the introduction of a localised approach to dealing with the pandemic has made it more likely that many bars will unfortunately have to go through another lockdown this winter.
The fear of possible closure, be it by a second lockdown or through being told to shut due to positive track and trace tests, will be a major burden for operators throughout the coming months.
However, there are steps that can be taken to help prepare for it or mitigate the effects of a positive test in your outlet.
At The Independent Tap Room in Brighton, manager Jem has been working hard to be able to deal with any eventuality. She’s divided her staff into two working groups in order to help keep the venue trading, the two shift teams, or bubbles, won’t cross paths inside or outside of work.
“This method means that should the worst happen and a staff member or customer has a positive test result we won’t have to close for over a week,” she said. “We can shut down for 48 hours, have an intensive deep clean and the unaffected bubble can carry on until the other members of staff are ready to return to work.
“We all know how serious having to close again for over a week, or being fined £10,000, would be for small venues so we’re doing everything we can, via planning and adhering to the rules, to avoid that loss of revenue.”
One of the things that the new regionalised system of restrictions will do is allow business owners to better judge the likelihood of a second closure. With areas’ risk of transmission categorised as medium, high and very high, and very high being the categorisation which results in licensed venues closing, licensees in ‘Tier Two’, or high risk, areas will be able to assess the chance that their region will be moved into the very high risk category and subsequently be forced to temporarily close their outlet.
And as one of the operators who has already endured a second lockdown after bars in Aberdeen were closed for three weeks due to a localised outbreak, Stuart urged licensees to reduce their costs in the event that a second closure looks likely this winter.
“What I did do prior to it happening was minimise overheads,” he said. “That can be as simple as turning everything off. Take metre readings before and after the shutdown, look and look again at what support is available to your business. Keep an eye on the level of perishable stock you have. I used the downtime to renew contracts and analyse spending that wasn’t justified. Those were all shrewd moves for when we did reopen again.”