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Shepherd Neame to reopen 11 managed pubs in Kent from July 4 as lockdown restrictions are eased

One of Kent's biggest pub operators says it will start the phased reopening of its pubs from next month.

Shepherd Neame has confirmed it will welcome back customers at 11 outlets in the county from July 4 - but you will have to pre-book a table.

The Marine Hotel, Whitstable. Picture: Shepherd Neame
The Marine Hotel, Whitstable. Picture: Shepherd Neame

These inlcude the Bell Hotel in Sandwich, Botany Bay Hotel in Kingsgate, Marine Hotel in Whitstable, Minnis Bay Bar and Brasserie in Birchington, Pier Five Bar and Kitchen and Ship and Trades in Chatham, Royal Albion Hotel in Broadstairs, The Royal in Tankerton, Spitfire in Kings Hill, The Sun Inn in Faversham and Conningbrook Hotel in Ashford.

It also plans to open 40 pubs and 150 tenanted pubs as soon as possible, but is yet to name them.

This comes after the Prime Minister today announced a relaxing of the two-metre rule which will allow pubs and restaurants to reopen next week.

Shepherd Neame owns more than 300 pubs across the South East and is one of many businesses in the hospitality sector that pushed for the government to change the regulations.

Chief executive Jonathan Neame said he hoped around two thirds of his pubs would be back in business by the end of July.

He said: "We very much welcome this announcement, which provides much needed clarity for our business, and for the beer and pub sector.

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame

"We are also grateful that the Government has listened to our industry’s calls for a change in social distancing guidance from the two-metre rule, and today announced that it will introduce a ‘one-metre-plus’ approach, similar to that used in many countries across the world, with other mitigation measures in place. This will make it more operationally and financially viable for us to begin reopening our pubs from July 4.

"Our mission is clear: to protect our team members and reassure customers they are safe in our pubs, while still ensuring they enjoy an authentic and engaging experience in our distinctive and individual pub environments.

"We still need to review the detail of the Government guidance for our industry, but we have already begun our preparations for reopening."

However, customers can expect a different experience venturing back to their local as changes will be made to how they operate.

Punters will be encouraged to pre-book a table, check menus online, pay by card, and use sanitisation points regularly.

The details of a customer registration process when arriving at a pub or when booking online are not yet known.

A number of safety measures will be introduced for staff and customers including:

Shepherd Neame's Cask Club. Picture: Shepherd Neame
Shepherd Neame's Cask Club. Picture: Shepherd Neame
  • Temperature checks for staff ahead of every shift
  • New safety signage including floor stickers to indicate social distancing requirements
  • Till screens
  • Physical screens introduced between seating
  • More contactless and card payments at tables
  • Hand sanitiser dispense stations
  • 3,000 washable face masks for team members, sourced from Sittingbourne firm Tillett Racing Seats
  • Seated table service only, which will reduce capacity numbers
  • Some tables will be removed or spaced out in line with Government guidelines
  • Single entrance and exit points to pubs
  • One-in, one-out system for pubs with smaller toilet space
  • Introduction of single-use recyclable paper menus
  • All condiments removed from tables and replaced with ramekins when requested
  • Cutlery taken to customers by staff
  • Increased cleaning regime, with focus on 'high touch points'
  • No standing at the bar, and drinks instead provided by table service in the bar area

Mr Neame added: "During the reopening phase it will take a considerable period of time for our supply chains to normalise and therefore our managed pubs will offer a reduced menu. All menus will be available to view on the pub’s website before reopening.

"We recognise that many of our customers will feel apprehensive about returning to the pub, while others will feel more comfortable.

"We are taking care to try and accommodate all attitudes in our plans for reopening, and would ask for tolerance both to our team members and to each other. To help customers navigate the changes to their Shepherd Neame experience in our managed pubs, we have put together this guide.

"In light of the social distancing guidance, reopening our estate while ensuring your visit is safe and enjoyable poses many challenges, but please let me assure you that we are doing everything in our power to find creative, practical solutions.

"We need you to stay safe to stay open."

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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