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‘We’d go bust in months’: restaurants at a loss over social distancing dilemma

News last week that people will have to be kept two metres apart until Christmas came as a body blow to the hospitality sectorSee all our coronavirus coverage Coronavirus – latest updatesLast Thursday night, chef and restaurateur Gary Usher tweeted a bleak photograph of the dining room of his Manchester restaurant Kala. Instead of the usual compact arrangement you’d expect of a bustling bistro, the wooden tables and chairs were sparsely placed across the polished floor. “This is Kala minus 30 seats and even then, it’s not two-metre spacing,’ the caption said. “Feeling a bit low today. Sorry.”It was an understandably gloomy response to chief medical officer Chris Whitty’s statement at the previous day’s Downing Street Press conference that in the absence of a vaccine, some form of social distancing – baldly put, keeping people two metres apart – would have to be in place at least until the end of the year. Katie Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. We knew the lockdown would go on for longer than three weeks, but I don’t think we’d thought about it being so intrusive or so restrictive for so long, and that was an incredible shock.”How do you keep the staff apart when it comes to clearing tables, or working in the kitchen? Continue reading…