Are you confident and Covid-19 aware enough to dine out? - Liam Rudden

EDINBURGH is reopening, slowly, bit by bit, business by business, small steps on a journey to the new normality, which is as it should be.

Friday, 21st August 2020, 4:29 pm
Masks on, James Murdoch and Leah Renton welcome you to Dine

It’s been interesting watching the different choices many of my favourite restaurants and bars have made when deciding when and how to reopen. Another of my regular haunts reopened during in the week, The Dome, on George Street. In normal circumstances, I would have been queuing to get in to see everyone. Working from home put paid to that.

It’s amazing how quickly routines change. Six months ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about popping into town for a pint - indeed, Monday to Friday I would have been in the city centre anyway on the way to and from the office. Without that reason, motivation to jump on a bus proved lacking, the six-pack of Tuborg found in my local corner shop providing an acceptable alternative.

When did nipping out for a pint become a special occasion and not the most natural thing in the world?

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It’s worrying and easy to see why many businesses in the hospitality sector are toiling - there simply aren’t enough people confident enough to go out to keep everywhere busy, even the with reduced capacity enforced by social distancing.

While some of my favourite bars are yet to reopen, others did so some time ago - everyone seems to have their own journey. Those that have opened (as addressed in last week’s column) now have the added onus of ensuring they protect the sector and society in general from further lockdowns - they have to get it right.

Like many, even the Eat Out To Help Out scheme did little to entice me to, well, eat out, although I didn’t need that incentive (they’re not part of that initiative) to check out Dine, on Cambridge Street, one of my favourite hang outs.

The visit was as much out of curiosity than anything else. Just how would they socially distance and make their bar and restaurant areas Covid aware.

Having seen how The Ivy On The Square managed it a couple of weeks back, I’ve become obsessed with the measures venues enforce on reopening, Dine certainly have taken the health and safety of staff and customers seriously.

Bookings must be made online ensuring the required data for Track and Trace is in the system before you walk through the door. Should you pop in for a pint, a quick scan of a QR code and your name and address on a form registers you in the same way.

On arrival I was greeted by masked and gloved staff - sounds extreme but it’s classily done and quite reassuring - I’m sure staff have also had lessons in smiling with their eyes. You can tell.

Hand sanitiser stations throughout the venue and a personal bottle to take away on each table ensure hands can be kept virus free. A QR code also features on the menu - just scan it and order on your mobile without ever touching a menu.

It really is an indication of just how things have changed when venues are reviewed on their virus mitigation as much as their food, but then if that’s what it takes to give us all the confidence to start living a little again, so be it.

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