Restaurants across Scotland are getting ready to welcome customers again with dining out allowed for the first time in four months.
Last week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced indoor pubs and restaurants could restart business from Wednesday as she heralded “a time for cautious hope and optimism”.
The move means business owners such as Kenny Blair will reopen some of the 12 establishments his Buzzworks Holdings group owns, including Vic’s and The Vine, both in Prestwick, South Ayrshire.
Among the measures in place at the restaurants are mandatory Covid-19-specific training for staff, with temperatures being taken, venues having a host to put customers at ease, clear signage, sanitisation stations and a limited amount of Perspex screens.
Speaking while placing social distancing stickers in the Lido restaurant in Troon, Mr Blair told the PA news agency: “It’s all quite new, you’re trying to keep everybody safe and still have as close to what it used to be like as possible.
“We’re quite lucky because we’ve got a lot of very spacious venues, so we’ve found the one-metre thing a challenge but not nearly as bad as it might have been.
“We’re under no illusion that we’ll get it absolutely perfect when we open but we think we’ve got some venues that customers will enjoy coming to and I think the measures we put in place will reassure them that they’ll be looked after.
“The last time we had customers was Friday March 20 – I think there’s going to be a bit of pent-up demand, at least initially, and then who knows after that, it’s all a bit of an unknown.
“We’ve been in daily contact with everyone that works in the business from the week before closedown in the staff app so they’ve been well informed.
“I do however think that after this amount of time not dealing with the public and the anxiety that’s potentially been caused by what’s gone on, then I think we’re going to have to look after people as they come back to work.”
Not every restaurant will welcome customers on Wednesday, with Mr Blair confirming only four of the larger venues he owns will open.
The same can be said for The Gannet in the Finnieston area of Glasgow, which has garnered a reputation for its bars and restaurants over the last few years.
Chef Peter McKenna, who co-owns and runs the restaurant, told PA they were hoping August 5 would be a reopening date.
However there would also be a reduced operation, with the Argyle Street restaurant closing on Mondays and Tuesdays and only offering dinner service on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Mr McKenna said: “Everybody’s looking at it in a positive sort of mindset – I think it’ll play to our strengths, and it’ll provide more consistency and it’ll just be the basically one team… focusing on the times we know we can do a good trade.
“We don’t know what the market’s going to be like for when we do reopen even though we’ve been getting lots of emails and calls with inquiries looking to book tables, so it is looking encouraging.
“Another reason for not opening so soon, I wanted to gauge what was happening in the city – not just the appetite but how the consumers are interacting with the new process.
“I’ll have to document everybody who comes into a restaurant, and we’re probably going to take temperatures as well when you come in, and we’re going to have that on file for the month.
“We’ve went to great lengths to do new health and safety procedures and with that we’re changing the layout of the restaurant, the sizes of the tables, more space between them and we’re removing half of the bar area.
“Everybody wants to get back to work and it’s been a long process but we’ve got to be mindful of doing it in the correct manner and doing our due diligence and ensuring that our customers and our guests and our staff are safe.”