Almost two-thirds of diners plan to return to restaurants once restrictions are lifted, though four in five would be reassured by widely spaced tables and visible hygiene practices.
According to a poll of 1,600 diners by restaurant guide Square Meal, just half (52%) of respondents said they would be as happy to go to a pub or bar post-lockdown.
The research found that 60% of diners were as likely to go to a restaurant after the lockdown, but a number expressed reservations about staff wearing masks. One said "the appeal of going out to a restaurant would be lessened if it felt like I'm going to a hospital with masks", while another added "if a restaurant demonstrates compliance with social distancing and scrupulous hygiene then I'll visit with my family".
Meanwhile, a second survey of 260 restaurant and bar operators conducted by the guide found that 74% were not confident they would survive if they had to adhere to social distancing.
Over a quarter (26%) said it would be impossible to open under such restrictions, while a further 64% said it would be possible but difficult.
One operator said: "The government has offered some good support so far, but we are worried about the potentially slow pick-up in business. In particular, we feel that there will not be that many higher yield groups, celebrations and events until there is a vaccine and social distancing is relaxed. We fear that the festive season in the run-up to Christmas may be disappointing.
"Currently all our staff are furloughed, but we may well have to let some go once the furlough ends. A lowering of the VAT rate would certainly help and some sort of help with staff costs for the first month or two after we reopen fully."