The majority of frequent pub and restaurant goers want to see all social distancing and sanitisation measures "overtly put in place" before they will feel comfortable eating and drinking out again, a focus group has revealed.
Market research agency Service Monitor recently hosted an online focus group with a cross-section of frequent pub and restaurant guests to understand their views on how Covid-19 will impact the hospitality sector.
The results also identified two smaller groups: a top tier of people with no underlying health issues who were "very keen to get back" and planned to visit a pub or restaurant as soon as they reopened regardless of what anti-Covid measures had been put in place; and a bottom tier of people who were not planning to eat or drink out regardless of any safety measures introduced by operators. This group said they would need "a lot of reassurance to persuade them to return" and included more "at-risk individuals" and people living with younger or older family members.
The sentiment of the group was that the main issue for customers was the "fear of being too close to other people", irrespective of the number of sanitising stations available and that they would put "huge emphasis on management" to control the number of guests and their behaviour in terms of maintaining a safe distance.
The focus group also revealed that regardless of measures put in place, the majority of diners would avoid eating and drinking out until there was a consistent and significant drop in infection and death rates.
Last week secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs George Eustice said that restrictions on hospitality businesses wouldn't not be eased until July and that beer gardens were likely to be the first areas to reopen.