Despite the coronavirus lockdown beginning to ease, one thing remains clear: it's unlikely life will return to the 'normal' that we knew before, and instead, the pandemic will have a long lasting effect on the way we behave.
Whether it's how we travel, what our working lives look like or even how people are allowed to get married. Beyond that, it will undoubtedly change the way we socialise. With pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and bars typically the hub of our social lives, what will they look like on the other side of lockdown - and will social distancing have to be in place forever?
Since closures were introduced on March 20, no official advice from the Government on re-opening has been issued, but speculation has been rife about what guidelines might include. Whether that's PPE for staff, a limit on alcoholic drinks (to help people adhere to social distancing), or restricting tables to household members, as well as the potential for plastic cups only, ordering on apps and more.
There was talk of restaurants with outside spaces re-opening as early as June 22, but a government source later denied this - insisting it remains July 4. When that day actually comes, what will it look like?
We can assume restaurants will have to adhere to similar social distancing guidelines as supermarkets, functioning at 40% - 70% capacity at any given time. That means limited people in a room, vigorous sanitising routines and, well, masks and gloves. Many are also preparing to separate tables with perspex screens, as well as using them in the middle of tables to allow people from different households to sit together.
Emily Keogh is the founder of Shelter & Co, who create design-led screens specifically for this situation. "Having seen the draft version of the government guidelines for restaurants this week, it looks there won’t be any one-size-fits-all rule for every restaurant," she tells Cosmopolitan UK. "Instead, each venue owner will need to consider their space and assess key needs based on their layout etc. The main thing will be 'wider spacing' between tables, and using screens and barriers where appropriate."
Restaurants in Italy re-opened on May 18, with strict measures in place - no more than four people can sit at a table, and groups must sit two metres apart.
15 mates for bottomless brunch probably isn't on the cards, then.
Similarly, sit-in cafes are likely to have to follow the same guidelines as restaurants, while also continuing to offer takeout options. A spokesperson for Costa Coffee explained that as well as "team members all being provided with protective equipment, high-quality Perspex screens have been installed at our counters in stores and bespoke extendable shelves can be found at Drive-thru lane windows."
Hand sanitiser stations have also been placed near every store entrance, while two metre distancing continues to be in place. The majority of places will also only accept contactless payment, to avoid germs being passed between hands.
Pubs and bars
Official reports suggests pubs and bars with gardens, terraces and outdoor marquees will be able to host a larger capacity, as research suggests transmission is weaker outside. All we need now is the weather.
The Wetherspoons pub chain has said staff will wear face masks and protective eyewear, and customers will be encouraged to sit outside. They will also run a reduced food menu (with bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise replaced by individual sachets), while those that do sit inside will be separated by Perspex screens.
Greene King, meanwhile, has said tables at their pubs will be spaced at least two metres apart, and customers will be encouraged to pre-book a table rather than stand at the bar. Perspex screens will be installed at bar areas and between booths where necessary, and toilets will be cleaned every 15 minutes, operating a one-in-one-out policy. Just when you thought toilet queues at pubs couldn't take any longer, eh?
Bars have already reopened in Paris, but with strict rules in place - tables are one metre apart and you have to sit outside, while standing at the bar is not allowed.
Bosses in the pub industry, meanwhile, are currently campaigning for the Government’s two-metre social distancing rule to be reduced to one metre in their establishments, in a bid to avoid major profit cuts.
Sweating. Snogging. Shimmying next to strangers. There's a lot of clubbing antics that don't feel particularly pandemic-friendly, which has raised a lot of questions over what nightclubs might look like on the other side.
If photos from Doornroosje in the Netherlands are anything to go by, the answer is 'different'. People had to book in a 20 minute slot on individual chairs, that had been positioned two metres apart on the dancefloor, and only 30 people were allowed to enter at any one time.
Spain ruled something similar on 8 June, with official guidelines revealing, "When there is a space on the premises for a dance floor or similar, it can be used to install tables or groupings of tables, not being able to dedicate said space to its habitual use."
Essentially, while live music and being in an actual club might be an option, dancing with your friends won't be. One club owner said (via BBC) that he wasn't sure clubbing would look even remotely recognisable until a vaccine was found, commenting, "People congregate very much on the dance floor, the very nature of the business is about close-up social interaction. Unless the disease fades away it's very hard to see a future for clubs."
The whole experience of a club comes from the atmosphere - something which is hard to achieve with a limited capacity and standing metres apart. Sad news for shape pullers, essentially.
The truth is, until the Government offer proper guidelines on how pubs, clubs, bars and more can open, socialising on the other side looks murky. What we can conclude, though, is that social distancing will need to be in place in some capacity for the foreseeable future - something which changes everything we knew about nights out.
Cosmopolitan UK's July issue is out now and available for purchase online and via Readly. You can also SUBSCRIBE HERE or read on Apple News+. Find our podcast 'All The Way With...' on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and the Acast app.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
You Might Also Like