With cafes, restaurants and pubs back serving food there’s a conversation many of us are having post-lockdown: where are we going to eat?

It feels familiar and also strange. However, to counter the lingering threat of Covid-19 there are changes in place for businesses serving food across the borough so that you can shop local and shop safe.

Current restrictions include limited customer numbers, mandatory table service and protective screens.

They also include:

  • No more propping up the bar or ordering at the till—now it’s all table service, all the time
  • Staff are being encouraged to wash their hands before handling plates and cutlery, and increase cleaning of contact surfaces
  • Music is being kept at a low volume to avoid people needing to shout, which increases the risk of transmission
  • Pub-goers are encouraged to book tables in advance
  • Live gigs and groups dancing inside are still a no-no
  • And there’s more controlled access to toilets While some big pub chains have said its staff will be provided with face masks and protective eyewear while it runs a reduced food menu, across Billericay and Wickford locally owned restaurants and pubs are taking precautions as well.

Over the last few weeks, many food places have adapted from click and collect and deliveries, like French Martini in Billericay to being fully re-opened again like Tony’s in Wickford and shows that restaurants up and down our High Streets are adapting in different ways.

Whether you’re getting Turkish food from Plush, or looking for a café stop in Basildon, you might notice little things like bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise being replaced by individual sachets; customers being encouraged to sit outside in gardens; plastic screens are at reception points. Contactless payments will be encouraged.

And while social distancing has been reduced from 2m to 1m plus where additional safety measures are in place, you can still expect to see one way systems in restaurants, with entry and exit systems to keep social distancing possible for a while to come. For those people with children, play areas in restaurants for children are still closed as well.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that nearly all of our hospitality businesses across the borough are small-to-medium sized businesses, locally owned and operated. So while supporting your local favourite eatery is being encouraged, many businesses have said that safety is still a key priority. Across Billericay and Wickford and all over the borough our restaurants, cafes and pubs are hopeful that people will respect the protective measures and only come to restaurants with their own household, or with one other household if they're indoors.

Making contact tracing possible is also being encouraged, to help track coronavirus transmission.

Customers only need to give their name and phone number, and owners are being encouraged to also note customers’ arrival times, and how long they stay.

One person can leave their details for a group and it can be done either on paper, online or during a phone booking. Please also remember that owners can choose not to serve you if you do not give your contact information.

That’s why we’re encouraging residents in Basildon borough to shop local and shop safe. This summer whatever comes next, the hospitality industry will survive—with our support.