A trip to the pub could change almost beyond recognition as measures to combat Covid-19 continue for months to come.
Many publicans are making plans for their return to business – and how a night out might look in the ‘new normal’.
Here are twenty things that could greet us when pubs reopen:
1. Food could become more of a focus than drink as publicans weigh up the risk of alcohol and social distancing.
2. Perspex or protective screens/barriers dividing pub-goers from each other and from staff. Some bars are working on making these design-friendly.
3. A return to the past, with snugs or 'confession boxes' to allow social distancing.
4. The days of standing at the bar are gone. It's table service and remaining seated during your night out.
5. People will be restricted from socialising with groups they haven't entered pubs with. This rule will likely be enforced, with security ejecting anyone who doesn't abide.
6. Some pubs will scrap smoking areas as they won't allow sufficient social distance for customers, while others will have sufficient space but will limit numbers standing outside.
7. Some bars may install a traffic-light system at toilets to allow the public to know when the lavatory is free.
8. Staff and customers' temperatures will be taken to ensure no-one enters pubs with a fever.
9. The death of live music and dancing areas, as social distancing would be an impossibility, some publicans believe.
10. Apps will be rolled out for customers to book tables for their nights out, as a measure to control numbers in the pub.
11. Pub doors will be managed to ensure only limited numbers enter and the introduction of maitre d's to show people to tables.
12. Waiting staff will wear PPE, including visors, and one waiter will take orders while another clears plates to ensure strict hygiene measures.
13. Orders for food may be made on apps and paid for via phone or contactless payments to ensure limited contact.
14. Tables will be sanitised after every customer. Menus will be disposable or cleaned regularly.
15. Some pubs will restrict table seating times to around 90 minutes to allow others to book a table on an app.
16. Some pubs may introduce take-out areas as a new way of extending people's night out.
17. Hands-free door handles will be introduced to help customers avoid touching toilet-door handles and other door handles.
18. A maximum of six people to a table.
19. Customers will use hand sanitiser before entry. High-grade sanitiser will be used by staff to avoid damage to hands with regular usage.
20. The pub will become a place where families and close friends enjoy leisure time, especially around food. The days of meeting strangers and having the 'craic' will be gone.