It might not have exactly been unexpected, considering our region’s national-newsworthy COVID-19 infection rates, but the news that the whole of our region – apart from North Yorkshire – would emerge from the second lockdown only to face the highest level of restrictions, was nevertheless a huge blow for the local HORECA (hotels, restaurants and catering) industry.
Let’s face it, Tier 3 is not a great place to be for hospitality businesses. Some such business owners may agree with the Government’s strategy, but many do not, as demonstrated by the numerous open letters sent by industry bodies to the PM recently.
Our hearts go out to the people running pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels who are desperately trying to keep their businesses afloat, especially as December, along with Christmas and New Year, is always such a key trading period. Full guidance on Tier 3 restrictions can be found at the government website and the key rules for these businesses are:
- Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services
- Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites and guest houses must close. There are several exemptions, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training
- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must remain closed
- Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also keep their doors shut.
We are here for any businesses that are still able to operate in some way and need an experienced guide to help them ensure they are COVID-secure – you will find more details of the advice and support we offer here.
In this two-part blog we’ll focus on two important topics – supporting businesses that can still operate a food and drink takeaway service, and secondly, how to keep unused stock safe and clean.
Part 1: Take it away!
As has been proved already earlier this year with previous COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is possible to keep your food and drink outlet running successfully even with indoor spaces closed if you turn your attention to a takeaway service.
Of course, it’s important to do this in a COVID-secure way, which is where we can help!
With ‘the rule of six’ applying to groups meeting outdoors, people will still be able to use your outdoor spaces to consume food and drink in a socially-distanced way.
As in spring and summer, caterers licenced to operate outdoors are taking tables out to pavement areas, car parks and grassy areas, so customers can park themselves for long enough to drink and dine in a safe way. Even though the weather isn’t nearly as appealing at this time of year, many people are just grateful to get outdoors and breathe some fresh (if cold and damp!) air, and are being careful to respect the social distancing rules.
Local authorities are being very accommodating so, if you’ve got an idea for what you’d like to do but are not sure if you’ll be allowed, it’s worth contacting your council to ask the question. This year has been challenging in the extreme, but we’ve still seen some of our HORECA clients succeed in exceeding their usual levels of trade and adding profitable new arms to their businesses.
We can help with your catering products and equipment, too, from unbreakable ‘crockery’ and glass options to environmentally-friendly, disposable utensils. We’re members of lots of trade associations and supply networks, and we put the legwork into researching all the best options for your business so that you don’t have to.
In terms of reusable crockery, melamine has had a major style refresh, and today’s examples are often not distinguishable from real crockery. This makes it a great choice for cups and plates to minimise breakages, and if you’d prefer not to use plastic glasses, there are lots of high-quality options for glassware that isn’t made from polycarbonate.
Shared condiment bottles could unfortunately transmit germs between people, so disposable servings of salts, vinegars and sauces to are the answer, allowing you to still offer these items while avoiding the risks. We can supply a range of individual, disposable condiment sachets.
Remember it’s best to apply rigorous hygiene procedures outside as well as in, too, with handwash or sanitisation stations for customers and clear signage about social distancing.
We understand that many food and hospitality business owners want to be as kind as possible to the environment. Naturally, an increase in takeaway services using disposable containers comes with the potential for increased waste.
But the good news is you do have options for packaging your products in a more environmentally-friendly way, and you can now choose from biodegradable, recyclable, compostable and plant-based alternatives to the traditional products.
So what do these options mean exactly?
Biodegradable packaging is made from naturally-occurring tree or plant-based substances, which can rot down over time. However, it can take decades for a biodegradable item to fully decompose – though, in its favour, it won’t contain any substances that will do lasting damage to the environment.
There are some fantastic options, including cartons and cups that are made from all plant-based materials, but such items don’t just break down naturally – they need processing first and therein lies the problem as very few industrial sites can process such waste items and 90 per cent of them potentially end up in landfill anyway.
This really is your ‘greenest’ option that works best with the UK’s current recycling capabilities. Recyclable glasses, plastics, cards and papers will go back into circulation to be re-used again and again, not into landfill. It’s a win-win situation, just ensure you look out for products that are clearly labelled as recyclable.
One thing you can’t control is how your customers dispose of their packaging, but we believe it’s worth encouraging them in any way you can to do so responsibly. This might just be via signage, or you may be able to provide recycling bins allowing you to easily sort the recyclables from the general waste.
We’re not going to deny that environmentally-friendly options do come at a higher price, and this can be a tricky decision for businesses already counting the cost of the pandemic. But sometimes paying an extra premium is worth the accompanying reputational boost and the kudos it can earn you among your customers.
Looking to the future
Most caterers will be aware that polystyrene packaging is going to be made illegal from 2021, and we look forward to new, cost-effective alternatives coming to market as the industry continues to innovate to match the government’s green agenda.
Whatever your budget, Elliott’s are here to help you choose the most appropriate packaging options for your needs – take a look at our packaging brochure and just give us a call if you’d like a no-obligation chat with a member of our friendly team.
To discuss your individual requirements so that we can help you come up with a bespoke solution, please call us on 01482 327580 or email us.