Updated: Jun 15, 2020
By Derek W Gardiner
This week Britain's biggest pub chain JD Wetherspoons announced plans to reopen their 875 pubs at the start of July in a way that will comply with government guidelines on social distancing. If you were expecting to be able to meet up with your mates who you haven't seen in months and enjoy being served by a friendly face then think again. The Wetherspoons experience will have changed for the worse.
Under the new measures proposed; staff will have to wear masks, gloves and goggles so you won't be able to see their faces, protective screens between different tables so if you see someone you know at the neighbouring table then forget about pushing the two tables together. Drinks will also be served from the bottom of the glass so you can look forward to having it spilled all over you. There was talk of a reduced menu with no indication on what we won't be able to order anymore. McDonald's are also introducing a reduced menu with no breakfast and it will often take around 2 hours for your order to arrive.
This defeats the whole purpose of going to the pub which is to meet people from outside your household, to socialise in large groups, meet new people and share ideas, indeed how many mass political movements have originated in pubs? I will not be returning to any Wetherspoons pubs until full service resumes. That is; a full menu, order at the bar, no yellow tape on the ground telling me where a can and cannot go, nobody dressed like Darth Vader and the right to sit next to my friends. Until that day comes, I would suggest simply buying a few cans out of the local off-license and inviting your friends round for a drink in the living room (when government guidelines permit of course).
All this talk of a "new normal" sounds more and more ominous by the day. It is true that many don't want to return to the way things were before the virus and see this crisis as a chance for change. I too am hopeful for change but change that allows us to be more free than we were before and not less. We have to show the government that this bizarre two metre social distancing rule needs to be relaxed otherwise the economy will continue to collapse and we will be less free as a society. We can do this by not going to the pub until normal service resumes.