How Harrogate bars are reacting to Boris Johnson's new Covid rules
Harrogate bar owners say the public’s incredible support for the independent sector so far during the pandemic gives them hope they they can weather the storm of the new tighter Covid measures.
The Government’s announcement on Tuesday that pubs, bars and restaurants would have to close at 10pm and offer table service only has met with a stoic reaction from the town’s food and drink scene which has grown accustomed to being flexible this year.
Tom Fozard, commercial manager at Rooster’s Brewing Co which runs a popular taproom at its base on Hornbeam Park, said winter would be tougher but he remained hopeful the sector could remain open successfully.
Mr Fozard said: “The support shown towards independent businesses during lock-down, as well as the ways business quickly adapted in order to keep trading, gives me hope that there’s plenty of energy all-round, from business owners, employees and customers alike, to help make sure the lights are kept on in as many establishments as possible, albeit having to the evening a little earlier than usual as a compromise.”
In an example of the lengths local businesses are now going to keep customers safe in the ‘new norm’, the HRH group has just installed advanced technology contactless temperature checkers in the lobbies of its bars, restaurants and hotels in Harrogate.
The new contactless machines at The Fat Badger, Scran Restaurant, The White Hart Hotel and The Yorkshire Hotel allow guests and customers to check their own body temperatures by scanning their wrists on entry in the property.
Simon Cotton, managing director at the HRH Group said: “There is a very serious message behind the installation but we have found our customers are also having fun using the scanning machine as they come in.”
The co-owner of Major Tom’s Social bar on The Ginnel in Harrogate said the way to survive was to adapt.
Toby Smith said: “August was really good for us with the Eat Out To Help out campaign and also we had a lot of tourists through the doors.
“We now operate as more of as a restaurant with an online booking system, bar host and table and app service.
“We have been really happy with the way our customers have responded; the majority really enjoy the table service.
“With the new 10pm restrictions it will be a matter of making a few further changes with things such as maybe opening earlier and pushing our take out services.”
What the new rules are for hospitality sector
The new tougher measures announced on Tuesday by the Prime Minister signal a retreat from July’s easing of lockdown in the hospitality sector.
In particular, they will affect bars, cafes and restaurants which will see the following changes from today, Thursday.
Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 10pm.
All the above restricted to table service only.
Face masks mandatory for bar staff, non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters.
People to work from home wherever possible.
Boris Johnson’s warning that the measures would probably stay in place for the next six months has led to alarm bells over the potential impact on businesses and jobs.
There is also confusion over whether table service only rules will apply to takeway food and drink.
What Rooster's taproom in Harrogate said
Rooster's Brewing Co. Taproom
Unit H5, Fifth Avenue, Hornbeam Park Ave, Harrogate HG2 8QT
Commercial manager Tom Fozard said:
"Following a better than anticipated period of trader as we came out of lock-down, it’s looking like being a tough Winter for the hospitality industry and its suppliers.
With regards the changes to the guidelines, due to the size of our Taproom, we’ve been operating table service out of necessity since it re-opened on July 4th and, on the whole (technology has a habit of letting the side down every now and then!), it’s proven to be an effective way for us to operate, while customer feedback has also been very positive.
"In fact, I’d go far as to say a lot of people prefer not having to stand and queue at the bar and really enjoy tapping a few buttons, before a beer being delivered to them at their table shortly afterwards! We’ve been having to absorb extra staffing costs as a result, as well as the extra costs involved with the technology.
"But it’s a relatively small price to pay if it means we can keep the doors open. Hopefully, those venues not currently offering table service, as per the initial guidelines, will be able to react and adapt quickly, to keep their livelihoods alive.
"The support shown towards independent businesses during lock-down, as well as the ways business quickly adapted in order to keep trading, gives me hope that there’s plenty of energy all-round, from business owners, employees and customers alike, to help make sure the lights are kept on in as many establishments as possible, albeit having to the evening a little earlier than usual as a compromise."
What Major Tom's Social in Harrogate said
Major Tom's Social
3 The Ginnel, Harrogate HG1 2RB
Owner Toby Smith said:
"We are all doing well and have been adapting to the new changes. I guess now we operate as more of as a restaurant with an online booking system, bar host and table/app service. "We have obviously had a few teething problems, especially with app technology.
"Overall Iam really happy and impressed with our team who have adapted really well. Also we have been really happy with the way our customers have responded to our changes and the majority really enjoy the table service.
"We do get the occasional customer who are techno phobic or don’t have a phone but we will give them a disposable menu and they can pay either cash or card.
"August was really good for us with the Eat Out To Help out campaign and also we had a lot of tourists through the doors.
"With the new 10pm restrictions we are unsure of how much of a financial impact this will have on us.
"Again it will be a matter of adapting and making a few further changes with things such as maybe opening earlier and pushing our take out services."
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