How to eat out safely in a pandemic

This article is sponsored by Squaremeal

Michel Roux's Landau Restaurant at the Langham Hotel
Michel Roux’s Landau Restaurant at the Langham Hotel

The hospitality industry has been hard hit by the lockdown during this pandemic. For the last couple of months, it looks like life is trickling back.

How are London restaurants dealing with the new normal?

Many London restaurants have tentatively reopened, with reduced seating, socially distanced tables, outdoor tables on recently pedestrianised streets (like in Soho), track and trace at the door, masked front of house staff and hand sanitisers at the entrance and on every table.

The Eat Out to Help Out campaign brought some diners back into restaurants, but since that ended, the number of diners has dropped again. It might have sparked a little bit of life back into the hospitality industry but in many cases, it didn’t really generate profits.

And now, the government has imposed a ridiculous 10 pm curfew on bars and restaurants. Since this announcement, there has been a spate of cancellations. A lot of places are reporting more than 50% reduction in revenue.

We all want London to keep being the vibrant food capital it has become and we need to support these businesses.

Here are some questions and concerns you might have about eating out:

Is it safe to go out and eat?

Most restaurants now have strict sanitation and safety precautions in place now. Helpfully, every venue on the Squaremeal site include hygiene ratings so that you can book with confidence

Can coronavirus spread through food?

Transmission of the virus via food is highly unlikely as the virus is spread via droplets expelled by a person.

Is it safe to take away food during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Infectious disease and food safety experts say that it is safe to order take away food, based on research on other coronaviruses.

Some safety precautions to keep in mind:

Choose restaurants that have tables placed far apart or with plexiglass screens. Better yet, restaurants with outdoor tables are better as they have more natural airflow. You can check on the restaurant’s safety procedures on their website. Most places will check on the health of their staff, offer masks and ensure frequent hand washing and cleaning of all surfaces.

My first meal post Covid-19 meal in a London restaurant was at Pidgin in London Fields. We had an amazing meal hosted by Hobgoblin beer featuring insects. You can read about it here.

Pidgin is a small venue and to meet the new health and safety requirements they have reduced the number of tables and spaced them out a lot. Thankfully, it is still warm outside so they have added a couple of outdoor tables to make up for the reduced indoor seating. In addition to the takeaway offering, they are surviving.

At this time, our small neighbourhood eateries need our custom. Not many landlords have been sympathetic to the plight of small restaurants.

Booking Restaurants for events and Christmas

Christmas Goose
Christmas Goose

We don’t have to totally curtail out social lives. It is safe to go out to restaurants. Many London restaurants and other venues with private dining rooms are open for festive event bookings now. If you need some ideas on where to go for a birthday party or a festive family gathering, the Squaremeal site will have suggestions for places to book.


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