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The new pub-iquette: From guestbooks to app ordering, what to expect from your first post-lockdown pub trip

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 1 day ago Katie Strick
a group of people holding wine glasses © Provided by Evening Standard

Top up the contactless and start the WhatsApp countdown. Your local boozer opens for (non-takeaway) pints today.

Pubs are set to rake in £210 million when they reopen this weekend, but don’t expect your favourite seat at the bar — from Saturday, the capital has a new set of socially-distanced drinking rules designed to keep us safe.

From keeping two metres apart to signing your name at the door, this is London’s new post-lockdown pub guide.

Early doors

The key to nailing the new pub-iquette? Start your session early, say pub owners. The Duke of Hamilton in Hampstead is opening its gardens to just 65 lucky drinkers from Saturday — 25 in the front, 40 at the back — and it’s first-come-first-served. One way to hurry that friend who’s always a fashionable two hours late.

There’s a tactic to starting early, too: bathrooms are set to be one-in-one-out when most pubs reopen so make sure you get your Super Saturday afternoon pints in before you break the seal and save your dancing for the living room later on.

Venues have been warned to refrain from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, singing or dancing, in order to avoid close contact, so football is also off the cards. The pub is the new pre.

Social signposting

"You’ll likely be greeted at the door and informed of the operating process", explains British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin, who helped draft the new industry guidance on pubs reopening.

From this weekend, maitre d’s or “pub hosts” are expected to be the new normal: you’ll be welcomed when you arrive and asked to sign a guestbook so that landlords can keep a record of those who have visited for 21 days, in case of an outbreak.

Once you’re in, you’ll be shown to a table (no sitting at the bar) and many are asking drinkers to pre-book a slot. Vinegar Yard at London Bridge is offering table reservations with drinks packages for six, while Camden Town Brewery’s new pop-up beer garden is offering two-hour sessions across Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The £20 entry fee includes a £10 food voucher and money off your drinks bill — one way to capitalise on power hour.

Appy hour

a person sitting on a table: Keep it clean: Table service will be standard across pubs in England (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Keep it clean: Table service will be standard across pubs in England (PA)

No more queuing at the bar. Wetherspoons is no longer the only pub chain offering table service: from this weekend, it is app orders only across the capital.

Greene King is encouraging its customers to dial their pints and Pimms straight to the table, and Deliveroo is rolling out a table-service app with pub and restaurant chains, so make sure that your phone is charged and top up the Apple Pay for that game of round roulette with the table next door. Drinking games just went high-tech.

Clean drinking

At Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals in Fitzrovia, staff will be wearing beekeeping suits and veils while they serve — a creative way of ensuring hygiene standards are in keeping with the bar’s blossoming theme. Wetherspoons says it has hired two extra cleaning staff for each of its pubs while The Mossy Well in Muswell Hill has been kitted out with distanced tables and Perspex screens.

Clean eating, too, is the order of the day. To reduce the spread of germs, pubs have been advised to offer disposable cutlery and Wetherspoons has replaced condiment bottles with ketchup and mayo sachets for the foreseeable.

Let’s take it outside

Summer’s prime drinking real estate? Pub gardens. From Saturday, groups of more than two households are allowed to meet outside, as long as they stay two metres apart, so take your Aperols alfresco if you’re bored of drinking with your housemates. Soho has a new outdoor drinking district so that pubgoers can spill onto the streets, while six is the magic number if it starts to rain. Saturday’s new indoor drinking rules state that pubgoers can gather in groups of six made up of a maximum of two households, so choose your crew wisely. Punctuality, bladder strength and rowdiness risk are useful factors to consider if you need to whittle down your shortlist.

Bottoms up

Hands off: Customers will be encouraged to use contactless payments where possible (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Hands off: Customers will be encouraged to use contactless payments where possible (PA)

The post-corona way to hold your Corona? From the top. Wetherspoons has confirmed staff will hold all drinks by the base of the glass — customers pick it up by the top to avoid contamination. Introduce a pick-up-with-your-opposite-hand game for added drama. Other socially-distanced drinking rules to add to the mix: contactless payments where possible, no loading up your own plates and one-way systems around the pub. Two digits for anyone who forgets.


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