On 4 July – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ – pubs and restaurants will reopen in the UK as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.
But things won’t be exactly how you remember them. There will be strict social distancing rules in place, limits on how many people can come in, lots of hand washing.
There is no way to guarantee that going out to socialise in an enclosed space will be safe – and if you don’t feel ready to do that, if you’re unwell or if you’re vulnerable, you should stay home.
But if you are gearing up for your first night in the pub in almost four months, there are things you can do to keep yourself and others as safe as possible.
Jana Abelovska, medical advisor at Click Pharmacy has shared her expert tips to help limit your risk if you’re heading to a pub or restaurant this weekend:
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Wear a mask
‘If you are heading to a pub this weekend, I would advise you to bring a filtered mask, which you should be wearing when inside the pub, ordering drinks, using the toilets and any other time you are in close contact with strangers,’ says Jana.
She adds that if you are a bit nervous, wear your mask even when you’re sitting outside, as there is a chance that if people close to you start to laugh or shout respiratory droplets could potentially be transmitted across.
‘If you are yet to buy a mask for the weekend, ensure that you purchase one with a filter, as this will filter out and bacteria or dust that becomes trapped in the mask and allows for cleaner air flow,’ she adds.
‘You want to ensure your mask includes two layers of fabric and also that it is large enough to cover both your mouth and nose comfortably.
‘The mask should be tight enough around your face that there are no gaps where potential particles could enter or leave, but not too tight that it is sore on the skin.
‘I would opt for a mask with a comfortable cotton fabric as this won’t aggravate the skin.
‘When you are wearing it, ensure that you do not touch it too often or pull it down to then touch your mouth or nose. And when you do take it off throughout the day, make sure you are keeping it in a safe place such as a draw string bag or container, so it is not exposed to any potential harmful bacteria whilst off your face.’
Choose where you sit carefully
If you are heading to the pub with friends, Jana suggests trying to find a table outside, because it is best to be in open-aired environment, and will be easier to keep your distance from others.
‘When with your friends, do not touch, kiss or hug, do not share drinks or clink glasses,’ says Jana. ‘You should make sure that around the table you are all keeping as much distance as you can.
‘If the pub ends up becoming busy then I would suggest remaining outside, however if you have to go into the pub to use the toilet, make sure you keep your distance as much as possible.
‘If you do end up brushing someone else with your hand, ensure you sanitise right after.’
Have hand sanitiser with you
‘I would also suggest bringing anti-bacterial wipes with you to the toilet and wiping down the toilet seat and flush as well as the taps before you use them,’ says Jana.
‘And, of course, sanitise even after washing your hands with soap and water.
‘Bring hand sanitiser with you and sanitise as much as possible, mainly when going inside, after touching door knobs, going to the toilet, standing by the bar if the bar is open, and coming into contact with others.’
Try not to drink too much
It’s important to stay aware of hygiene and social distancing rules, and being tipsy or drunk could make you less vigilant.
‘It’s imperative to stick to the guideline even after a few drinks,’ says Jana. ‘Most likely, people will become more lax after drinking, so try not to over-do it alcohol wise to ensure you remain aware of your surroundings and safe.’
Be more vigilant in restaurants
Jana says that all the same rules apply if you’re going to a restaurant, but you need to be extra careful.
‘You should be even more vigilant as you will be sitting inside and eating food,’ Jana explains. ‘I would suggest bringing anti-bacterial wipes with you so you can wipe down your chair, table, cutlery and drinking glass.
‘Hand sanitise after eating as you will have touched the plate most likely. Try to keep your distance from waiting staff. Hand sanitise as soon as you have paid and left the building.
‘You should also be hand sanitising after opening doors, touching your glass, touching windows, tables, seats, outdoor umbrellas and cigarette trays.’
Be mindful of nervous friends
Not everybody will feel comfortable with things going back to normal, and it’s important to respect the feelings of your friends – whatever their boundaries.
‘If you are meeting a friend who is a little nervous about the easing of lockdown, try to respect their views and wear a mask when you meet, bring hand sanitiser and ask them if you are OK to sit next to or opposite them,’ says Jana.
‘Remain wary of your surroundings, do not invite other people over to your table unless your friend is happy with this.
‘I would also advise keeping your mask on at all times, even when talking, to give your friend peace of mind. When you want a drink, use a straw and feed it under your mask.
‘Do not expect your friend to want to stay for too long, or sit inside, and if they say they are heading home because it’s getting too busy, treat their decision with respect.’
Remember, the safest way to social distance and limit your risk is to stay at home. Don’t go to a pub or restaurant if you or anyone you live with is unwell.
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