Expert Advice: Post-Lockdown Social Etiquette Guide

After being kept out of venues, clubs, bars and restaurants for the best part of a year, Brits are being offered an etiquette guide to keep in mind when out and about this summer.

The team at Groubook have put together top tips on how to navigate social events once the hospitality sector reopens to the public.

Physical distance, hand sanitiser and masks are likely to still be common practice until the whole country has been vaccinated. The pandemic has changed our social behaviour and whilst the idea of dancing in a field at a festival or in a club with mates seems miles away, there is definite hope ahead.

Drinkers in bars and diners in restaurants will still be expected to keep to social distance measures and a few friends may not feel comfortable socialising for a while, so it is essential to be mindful in the months ahead.

Founder of Groubook, Bradley Gough said: “As we start to look forward to sunny days spent in beer gardens and nights out with our friends, it is important to be conscious of how alien the first few trips out might feel.

“The measures we saw during the tier system over the summer felt super awkward and at times impolite, but everyone is in the same boat, figuring out pandemic protocols as they go.

“Some people will be rearing for a night on the town, whilst others will be more cautious. The social etiquette guide is a reminder to people as the world starts opening up again.”

Post-lockdown etiquette

1. Distance

Physical distancing is likely to stick around for some time and whilst most people will be used to it, it is easy to forget when out and about enjoying quality time with family and friends. As the public head back into venues, be considerate of any distancing guides that have been put in place, whether it’s capacity restrictions, marked areas to form a queue in, sit down at or for directing the flow of traffic.

2. Cover your mouth

Covering a cough or sneeze is common practice and basic manners, but when living in a post-lockdown society the public has new etiquette to consider. When we inevitably get back inside boozers, it will be a good idea to get everyone to cover up their mouth when singing, or shouting in the direction of others.

3. Be kind

A lot of people working in the hospitality sector have only been in to do a couple of shifts over the last year, meaning they might be a little out of practice and may need more patience than usual. The pandemic has also taught us that no one truly knows what strangers are going through privately. Hopefully being stuck in the house for such long periods has made everyone check their manners, but in case it hasn’t… he is a reminder!

4. Greetings

Everyone is desperate for that first hug with a family member or a high five with a friend, but the etiquette on greetings has obviously shifted. Experts are predicting that the traditional ritual of a clink of glasses, over dinnertime with people outside of our household, will become popular again post-pandemic. However, for the foreseeable small party-goers and pub drinkers will have to settle for cheery waves, mini dances and elbow bumps.

5. Protection

Whilst it’s not the usual night out protection most people have in mind, the regular use of hand sanitiser is likely to stick around long after the pandemic, so it will always be sensible to have some on you. The same can be said for mask-wearing, which is likely to stick around for those not seated and moving through venues. The biggest complaints around masks are not being able to see facial cues and voices becoming muffled, so get used to using eyes to portray a smile, hand gestures to compensate for facial expressions and talk up when in louder spaces.

6. Be prepared

Sharing pretty much anything on a night out is a thing of the past, so it is best to be prepared. Pack the essentials, because sharing a lip balm in the loos or grabbing a mate’s gum will be pretty socially unacceptable. Bring plenty of layers so coats don’t have to be shared if it’s cold, or when people are sneaking out to a smoking area.

7. Be understanding

When making plans in a post-lockdown climate it might be tricky to fully firm plans up, especially with friends or family members that have been shielding. Is so important that each party feels as comfortable and safe as possible. Certain demographics are known to be at a higher risk regarding COVID, and there is often no way of telling this unless they disclose it. Be understanding and accepting of people who may hesitate to join you in activities that may put their health at risk.

8. Book in advance

When the day finally does come, and restaurants and bars reopen, they will be trying to gauge how busy they will be and how much stock they will need. A great way to alleviate the pressure on staff and avoid long waits is to tell a venue the plan way in advance. Take advantage of online booking systems and apps like Groubook, which lets groups of friends, families or colleagues book and arrange their nights in one place, while taking advantage of discounts and rewards.

The team at Groubook believe the app will give independent bars and restaurants a head start when they’re finally able to open for business and help them recoup some of the losses from the pandemic. The app was launched in Nottingham in August 2020, as restrictions began to ease and saw rapid initial take-up with numbers growing by 250% in the first six weeks.

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