Re-Opening Restaurants After Covid-19: What’s Changed?


11 August 2020

The global food industry has been hit hard.

In particular, the hospitality sector has been severely damaged by the pandemic; dining out has declined a staggering 50.3% worldwide, social distancing measures and general caution in public places has led to consumers venturing out less, and 73% of the UK’s hospitality workers were furloughed in April.

But it’s not just restaurants feeling the impact.

The whole supply chain has taken a huge hit - farmers are left with excess produce and broken supply chains, distribution networks have been suspended and some local cafes haven’t welcomed a single customer in months.

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As the lockdown starts to lift, customers are beginning to venture out again, likely driven by the recent UK government measures to ‘turbocharge’ the bounceback of restaurants, pubs, and food businesses through the 'Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

Running for the month of August, diners can get 50% off meals Monday through Wednesday - as long as you dine in, not take away, at selected restaurants.

Announcing the scheme, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “I know people are cautious about going out. But we wouldn’t have lifted the restrictions if we didn’t think we could do so, safely. Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days.”

As expected, dining out will be a very different experience to what you are used to, pre-corona.

Keeping a safe distance, table service and going cashless are some of the noticeable changes.

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New Pressures for Food Businesses

Food businesses across the UK are under intense pressure to adhere to strict Food Safety regulations upon re-opening, including providing PPE equipment for employees and checking staff are fit for work and not showing any symptoms at any time. 

“While recent outbreaks reiterate the need for hyper vigilance, there’s also a unique opportunity for the industry to lead the way in implementing best-in-class coronavirus prevention measures and making positive changes to how the food industry operates indefinitely,’’ commented Tracy Wain, Food Safety Technical Manager at Bureau Veritas. ‘‘Fundamentally, this requires businesses to take an evolving approach – based on daily monitoring and adaptation of organisational practices. Doing this has never been more important in an effort to help to keep vital plants and food services operational and therefore shoring up the sector’s economic bounce back.”

New cleaning schedules, new social distancing rules, and new day-to-day procedures; food businesses are responsible for managing all of these factors while balancing a profitable business model and incentivising customers to return to their premises. It’s quite a task.


Reopening your food business? Check out the Government guidance (and handy checklist) here.

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Supportive Schemes vs Social Pressure

Temporary reductions in VAT rates for hospitality and tourism sectors were another of Rishi Sunak’s schemes to support businesses, in the hope they can retain a higher portion of their profits.

However, many large chains, such as Nando’s and McDonald's, have publicly shared they will be passing the discount onto their customers, cutting prices across their menus - putting pressure on smaller businesses to follow suit.

With Just Eat leading the UK’s online food delivery service, forecasts of online food delivery users are set to reach 13.1 million in 2024 - the food industry is set for incredible growth, no doubt accelerated by the lockdown and reduction in people eating out.

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Restaurants that do not offer home delivery services, or lack the ability to order online, will need to adapt quickly or risk being left behind. (RIP Blockbuster.)

Automating internal processes, such as expenses, has proven vital to many of Expend’s customers. Consumers are incentivised to use contactless payments for all transactions, including eating out, resulting in a significant reduction of cash handled on restaurant premises.

Alternative ways to access business funds, such as petty cash, are more prevalent than ever.


> Read our '2020: Time to Replace Petty Cash?' blog here


Expend’s contactless Mastercard empowers Restaurateurs to give employees access to business funds safely and securely, while Expend’s full platform enables owners to take care of sales and purchase invoices, track mileage (for example, if Regional Managers supervise multiple locations), and view accurate spending data across the business in real-time.

Accounting for every pound is crucial in the current climate - a clear understanding of the future of cash in your business is imperative to your success. 

Even if you’re not actively concerned about cash, building and keeping a cash flow forecast up to date should be a key part of your monthly reporting. If you want to grow your business, understanding and visualising how that growth will happen is the first step.


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> Why does your business need a cash flow forecast? Read our blog here


Through the undoubtedly bumpy road ahead, let Expend feed in and help you run your business efficiently. 


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Head of Marketing

The driving force behind all-things-marketing, fuelled by coffee and true crime documentaries.

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