If you haven’t yet ventured onto the streets of central London, you might be wondering how the capital’s restaurants have been adapting to the new normal.
Since Saturday 4 July, pubs, cafes and restaurants have been allowed to open to the public, as long as social-distancing measures are in place, customers remain one metre apart and tables seat six or less.
Here are five things you need to know about London’s restaurant scene this summer.
1 Not everywhere is open yet
Particularly in central London, where the tourist trade is crucial, many restaurants are delaying opening until later this month – or this year – because of reduced footfall and the difficulties of implementing social distancing. Chains aren’t opening all their branches at once, with some trialling their post-corvid operation in certain areas.
2 Things will feel different
As well as the metre distance between tables, you will see hand sanitiser stations, no more sharing plates and ordering and payments by phone. Places, which previously didn’t take bookings may change their policy and time slots will be introduced in others.
3 Al fresco will be bigger than ever
Many restaurants will expand their outside space, with the government aiming to relax planning laws to make it possible to operate on pavements, car parks and open spaces. Westminster City Council has already approved plans for parts of Soho to be pedestrianised, so its small venues can accommodate more drinkers and diners.
4 Restaurants are more than their physical locations
Restaurants adapted to lockdown by launching, or increasing, online sales operations, becoming brands as well as physical venues. Sales of merchandise, fresh produce, ready meals and even bottled cocktails have kept establishments afloat during difficult times and this trend is likely to continue.
5 We will say goodbye to some treasured spots
Lockdown has already seen the closure of several popular restaurants, with insiders fearing for the future of chains and neighbourhood eateries alike. Whether picking up a takeaway to eat in the park, ordering a ready meal online or braving it and booking a table, the message from the industry is use them or lose them.
Read more about this story in Time Out.