One of the county's biggest pub operators says switching social distancing regulations from two metres to one could be the difference between life and death for many outlets.
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Faversham brewer Shepherd Neame, says recent research has revealed with two-metre distancing just 30% of pubs will be viable. But reduce it to one metre and 80% should be able to avoid making a loss.
The company is one of many in the hospitality industry lobbying the government to change the regulations.
There appears to be momentum for such a move, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak first confirming at the weekend a review was to be carried out.
A minimum of one-metre social distancing is recommended by the World Heath Organisation, but the government's science experts have pointed out there is an enhanced risk if it is reduced from two metres.
The hospitality industry hopes the rules may be relaxed in time for the proposed July 4 reopening of pubs and restaurants.
However, customers can expect a different experience if they venture back to their local, with landlords putting a key focus on winning the trust of customers.
Speaking during a recent webinar for the Kent tourism and hospitality business, hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses, Mr Neame said: "You have to make it clear your outlet is not about range or price or offer, as most of those will be severely limited at the early stages because of the supply chain.
"It will be much more about making sure your staff and customers are safe.
"Once people have crossed the threshold for the first time, I think consumer attitudes will change quickly and they will quickly relax.
"I'm not completely persuaded that the 'new normal' will be that different from the old normal in the fullness of time."
Shepherd Neame owns 300 pubs across Kent and the South East and says prices will not be increased to plug the losses of more than three months of shutdown.
But printed materials will be removed from pubs - which means an end of menus - and are likely to be replaced by apps or other online ordering mechanisms.
There will also be table service for those enjoying a pint while people will be encouraged to switch to contactless payments to avoid customers and staff having to handle cash.
And he warned all pub and restaurant operators of the "cataclysmic" repercussions if failure to social distance leads to an outbreak in a particular establishment.
He explained: "When this outbreak first started in Italy it was in a ski restaurant and bar and then spread to various countries.
"It would be cataclysmic for that outlet if similar things happen.
"If they can use track and trace to locate the outbreak back to a particular venue, it's the death knell for that business, certainly for the foreseeable.
"So there's a high degree of compulsion on the operator that whatever form or risk assessment they put in place the guidance is followed."
But the hospitality sector continues to wait on government guidance as to how it should prepare for a July 4 reopening - and the social distancing measures are key.
Mr Neame added: "You only have to put a four-metre stick across your shoulders and walk around a 16th century pub to understand the complexity of this.
"We are lobbying hard for the one-metre situation.
"We guess we'll start with two metres and then quickly move to one metre."
Shepherd Neame pubs are likely to see a phased reopening during the course of July with Mr Neame anticipating two-thirds of its estate being fully open by the end of the month if two-metre guidelines remain in place - but up to 90% if it drops to one metre.
However, he warns the firm's pubs in London may not reopen until September or October as commuters continue to work from home.
He adds: "I am always dangerously optimistic but I have been encouraged by other markets.
"In Germany, which had a hard lockdown, low level of deaths and a low impact on their economy relative to other parts of the world, they opened in May. By mid-May the best establishments were getting 50% of their revenues, the worse at about 10%. But two weeks later all were at 50% or above and only 10 days ago an independent survey suggested most outlets were achieving the same number of bookings as the same period last year.
"You only have to put a four-metre stick across your shoulders and walk around a 16th century pub to understand the complexity of this."
"Holland and France are at about 75% volume recovery."
But he warned despite his optimism there may be some difficult choices to make.
He explained: "The real cost is the incremental debt we've taken on. We've all been losing money hand over first and all of us have been taking out precautionary safety net loans, which we didn't want, and they have to be paid back.
"That is by either trading out of it, or by taking unpalatable choices about selling assets or whatever it might be.
"But customers need to know what to expect. We're going to have a more limited range of food and drinks initially because of the pressures on the supply chain, equally we will be moving to contactless and cash-free.
"Table service will be in our outlets and we need a degree of patience from customers. We will do our best to train staff in new ways of working, but things may just take a little longer."
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