The pubs and restaurants are finally reopening in our city as the coronavirus lockdown continues to ease in Birmingham.
Restrictions will be relaxed from Saturday, July 4, meaning the hospitality sector can welcome back diners and punters for the first time since the shutdown back in March.
But amid fears the eased restrictions could spark a second wave of Covid-19, the public has been urged to remain extra cautious and continue to adhere to strict social distancing.
As the doors to the city’s boozers and eateries fly back open, customers have been warned they must follow rules to keep safe and prevent the spread of the virus.
People should try to remain as sober as possible to avoid unnecessary trips to the toilet and choose a window seat to lower transmission, a doctor has advised ahead of the openings.
Dr Daniel Atkinson, Clinical Lead at Treated.com said customers should avoid the buffet or salad bar – although some restaurants may have scrapped this feature – and instead opt for dishes off the menu.
Issuing five key suggestions to keep safe, the GP said: “Choose a window seat at a restaurant or pub, if you can’t sit outside.
“We know that the virus is more fragile outdoors than it is inside, and the risk of transmission outdoors is comparatively very low.
“So sit outside or by a large open window if you can. But be prepared for these seats to be in high demand.”
He added that finger food and platters along with salad bars should be avoided, as they could increase the risk of transmission through surfaces.
“Order off the menu over the buffet or salad bar. Restaurants may forego offering a buffet or salad bar service initially.
“Still, if it comes down to a choice between a buffet and ordering off the menu, right now you’re in lower risk territory with the latter, because you are avoiding a queue and not touching shared food-serving implements.
“It’s thought that the risk of transmission through food isn’t very high. But sharing implements and huddling around a table to pick at a platter does make social distancing harder, and when we eat finger food we may tend to touch surfaces then touch our faces more (which is a route of transmission).”
Using contactless payments instead of cash, as has been advised since the beginning of the pandemic, was also suggested by the doctor.
Lastly, he told the public not to ‘drink too much’ as this would lower inhibitions to remain cautious and also mean more toilet breaks.
“‘It’s understandable that many of us will want to go out and let loose, and have a few drinks.
“There are already plenty of reasons why you should keep your alcohol intake within sensible limits, and the risk of coronavirus presents even more reasons.
“Namely, you’ll need the bathroom more (the more you have to touch communal surfaces, the greater the risk of infection) and your inhibitions will be lower (and you’ll be less likely to be cautious).”
Many pubs will be operating booking systems to stem the flow and curb demand, keeping workers safe as the establishments reopen.
Restaurants, including McDonald’s, have also erected Perspex screens to keep staff safe and ensure hygiene protocols are met.
Diners can expect fewer tables too, as many will have been removed to ensure social distancing measures can be enforced.
Drinking at the bar is also banned, with many pubs limiting customer numbers for fear of becoming overcrowded.
Masks, gloves or visors for staff are also likely, as PPE equipment is donned amid the pandemic.