A number of pubs in the UK have been forced to close after reopening for “Super Saturday” this weekend, after customers or staff tested positive for coronavirus, reports The Guardian.
The Lighthouse Kitchen and Carvery in Somerset posted a statement to Facebook, reading, “This isn’t the message we wanted to write so soon but The Lighthouse will be closed due to a customer testing positive. We are slowly getting through our list of customers that were in the pub on Saturday. All our staff are going to be tested and we will reopen when the time is safe to do so.”
Two more locations in Somerset – Indian takeaway Saagar and the Vape Escape bar – have also closed, the former because a driver had visited The Lighthouse Kitchen, the latter because a customer had tested positive for COVID-19.
In Hampshire, The Village Home pub released a statement after one its customers tested positive, saying, “The pub is now shut, but all being well will open again on Saturday. Anyone who was in the pub over the weekend, there is no need to isolate unless you show symptoms or are contacted direct by the trace group.” In West Yorkshire, staff at The Fox and Hounds said, “The pub will be fully deep cleaned, and when safe to do so we will reopen our doors” after a guest called on Monday to tell them they had tested positive.
Prior to reopening, each pub had posted messages on social media about their plans to implement government safety guidelines, such as only offering table service and asking customers for their contact details in case any guests tested positive for COVID-19.
In an article for VICE UK, a staff member at a Wetherspoons pub in Brighton wrote of issues around the contact tracing guidelines, saying after his shift on Saturday night: “When customers came in we gave them test-and-trace forms to fill out, but there’s nothing to stop anyone from writing, ‘What’s your name? Micky Mouse. When are you leaving? When I want.’ When I looked at the forms, I saw that people had mostly written stuff like that.”
The World Health Organisation has maintained that COVID-19 droplets fall to the floor after being expelled by a sneeze or a cough, but on Saturday 293 scientists from 32 countries signed an open letter stating that coronavirus is airborne and can be transmitted via microscopic particles that linger in the air indoors. This means indoor venues such as pubs and bars could present additional danger to customers – a theory backed up by a spike in cases across the US after states reopened bars and restaurants in recent weeks.
Ahead of Super Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of pubs, bars and restaurants reopening: “Let’s not blow it,” adding, “I do want people to feel that it’s safe to go and enjoy themselves and enjoy hospitality. But it’s got to be done in a responsible way.”
Despite a number of arrests – and viral images of a street in Soho, central London heaving with drinkers – police said the majority of people were “sensible”.