Friday, 3 July 2020

Keeping in touch

A week ago last Tuesday, the government confirmed that pubs in England would be allowed to reopen under certain conditions tomorrow, Saturday July 4th. Later in the day they issued the detailed guidance on how this was expected to work. I have deliberately avoided returning to this subject in the meantime because everything is speculation, and we won’t really know how it will turn out until it actually happens.

However, the point that has probably led to most discussion is contained on Page 11, where it says “You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.” Clearly, there is a strong justification for this, but it is something that has never been required of pubs before for walk-in customers, and the trade has spent the following week running around like headless chickens trying to come up with ways to implement it. It also creates serious privacy implications that should not be lightly dismissed.

Eventually, yesterday the official guidance on collecting customer details was produced, which is considerably more straightforward than many people had imagined. The key details are shown below. Note that it states “No additional information should be collected for this purpose”, so pubs will be going too far even to ask for addresses.

This is pretty much what Wetherspoon’s have said they will be doing. If some people write down Donald Cummings or Dominic Duck, so be it, but in reality I’d expect a high level of compliance, as making up a false identity is actually much more hard work than telling the truth. This little pad used by a German restaurant points the way, although even the address field is superfluous.

Compare this with the diktat issued by the Prince Albert pub in Wolverhampton, which goes well over the top. In particular, demanding to see “official” ID, except for purposes of age verification, seems completely unreasonable, as is demanding a temperature check and asking for date of birth. So I think my custom would probably go to the nearby Great Western, which is a far better pub anyway. In any case, I have no current photo ID.

On a related note, the various CAMRA branches in Greater Manchester have got together to produce a very useful one-page listing of which pubs and bars are expected to be open tomorrow and during the coming weeks, which is an extremely praiseworthy effort. You should be able to find somewhere to have a pint in most areas. In particular, local family brewers Joseph Holt are opening all but 13 of their pubs, as listed towards the bottom of this page.


  1. I hope that the Prince Albert gets no customers, if that's their attitude. All of my pub-going acquaintances have said that they intend to wait a while before venturing back into the pub - to see how it pans out. I'm certainly in no hurry to go back, but if all pubs deal with the requirements like Wetherspoons intend, I might almost be tempted. Depends on what they're like inside, and the ordering procedure. Because, as you'll know if you've ever tried ordering real ale in a Wetherspoons using their app, the big problem is how do you ask for them to take it back and top it up a bit please?

  2. Professor Pie-Tin3 July 2020 at 15:57

    Jammy bastards.
    Over here we still have to wait until July 20th.
    Mind you yesterday was my birthday so I took Lady Pie-Tin to a bar/restaurant for a pint and a meal.
    Unbelievably I had to send back my first pint in 16 weeks as it was rank.
    A bottle of crap French wine cost €30 and two main courses,one starter and one dessert set me back €140.
    I suddenly remembered why I never eat out in Irish pubs.
    Good luck tomorrow everyone.
    Have one for me.

    1. It might be a challenge to send bank rank or short measure pints in table-service pubs. But we shall suck it and see :-)

    2. 15th July here in Scotland, although beer gardens open from 6th. None of that having to have a meal nonsense though.

  3. There’s irony in the Prince Albert’s overzealous diktats which have taken no notice of the sections of the guidelines that encourage the use of one of the many available apps to order, and discourage bar service.

    1. I am sure Prince Albert himself will make many visits

  4. Unsurprisingly, complaints of abuse of personal information provided to pubs have now begun to surface:


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. To combat persistent trolling, unregistered comments are liable to be deleted unless I recognise the author. If you intend to make more than the occasional comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.