Updated September 2020 for the new rules:
We have been open nearly a month now - a difficult month for pubs but the refreshed Black Bear has been well received and as busy as I think it could be given the efforts of the Government to try and stop us.
It wasn’t all bad. We’ve taken the opportunity to redecorate and do a hell of a lot repairs including a new staircase so you can now walk up it instead of climbing. We have also tinkered the menus and drinks lists and introduced a modern till system.
We had settled down to a routine but now have a new set of Boris rules we need to comply with. We think the key to this is to be sensible although being sensible does not seem to apply to government rules and regulations which have an element of being non-sensical. It's probably trying to make a set of rules that apply to both central London and Whitchurch when actually the requirements are quite different. Despite this, we have carefully read HMG's new guidelines and this is what we have decided to do:
We’d prefer you to book your table in advance so please contact us by telephone. We will still take walk ins but space is limited. We now have to close at 10pm instead of 11pm.
We ask you to follow the HMG guidance about groups of no more than 6 people from any household, including children. We can’t check this so we trust you to do the right thing.
social distancing and face coverings
In these times it's not wise to be close to each other. A virus will find it harder to find you if you're over there. So for the short term we have shifted all the tables around so that people can easily sit a metre, in most cases more, away from each other. Sadly we won't be able to have people at the bar. In light of HMG's latest regulations all guests are required to wear a face covering when in the pub, except when sat at a table.
The principle is come in, sit down and we will serve you at the table. Our staff will do their best to keep a safe distance from you while doing this but it is a very small pub so be tolerant. Cutlery will be placed in tankards on your table, and will be replaced after each sitting. Alongside this, salt and pepper shakers and table surfaces will be sanitised regularly through the day. Individual use menus will be found on the table, then binned and replaced after each sitting. Every menu will have a QR code so you can scan it and read the menu on your own device if you choose.
government track and trace scheme
Boris has asked us to get the details of our customers in case there's another outbreak locally. This seems sensible to me so we will keep the booking contact as the main contact and trust that you can supply HMG with all other people in your party. If you've not booked we'll take a name and contact number when you arrive and ask you to scan HMG's new Track and Trace QR Code which will be on the bar. We won't keep this information for longer than we asked to by the authorities (I don't know whether they will) and we won't give it to anyone else. We respect customer privacy and will not exploit the situation.
Lynne and the team do a really good job of keeping the pub clean even in normal times. I'm proud of how the place looks. During these Covid days we have extended the cleaning hours to allow common contact surfaces to be cleaned every day. In addition to this we will have cleaning throughout the day. It can't be perfect, viruses are tenacious, but it all helps.
As we're serving at the table you don't need to go to the bar. Richard and I are devastated that we can't have locals jammed into the bar as usual and feel it won't be the same. We're not booking the tables closest to the bar so drinkers can sit and talk at them but if someone wants to eat on one of them we're not going to chuck them off. It will probably involve us in a little bit of wise customer management.
toilets (completely refitted with new tiles and everything)
We have thought about having some sort of system for marshalling people using the loos but have decided that we should trust you to keep social distancing in the toilets and toilet corridor. We will be cleaning the high touch points frequently.
Pay by contactless card or a smart phone app if you can. We will take cash but prefer card payment methods.
don't come if you're not feeling well?
I know it's obvious to say this but if you feel unwell, or are in contact with someone showing Covid symptoms, please give us a call and we will happily rearrange your reservation for another day when you're feeling better.
That's it. So we look forward to seeing you in the shiny new Black Bear.
Cheers, Richard and Jerry