Too Scared To Go Indoors, Why We Still Prefer Al Fresco Dining In The Rain

Us Brits, we’re an (in)famously quirky lot. We’re currently enjoying what is rapidly turning out to be the wettest May since 1967, which is a good thing. Because it gives us such an excellent excuse to talk about….the weather. Don’t worry, we’ll soon be moaning that it’s too hot, and that a spell of rain will be ‘good for the garden’.

And on the day when hospitality is allowed to open its doors to the great indoors once more, it seems that more and more of us are shunning the warmth and the dry of the inside of a pub, preferring to sit outside under an umbrella, nursing our drinks as the rain continues to fall incessantly.

One can hardly blame hospitality for our reluctance to venture indoors. After all, for over a year, we’ve been subjected to a constant barrage of fear inducing messaging from the government and the media. No wonder we’re hesitant to jump back into the water, when for all we know, Jaws is waiting just around the corner.

According to an Ipsos MORI poll published today, 31% of us would feel uncomfortable visiting a bar or a restaurant, and 50% of us would not feel comfortable hugging in the way we once did. Clearly, our attitudes and perceptions of risk have shifted dramatically. It’s what we at SafePrem® Solutions refer to as the ‘Covid cautious’.

And for the hospitality industry, tracking them over the coming months is going to be especially critical. Because, it’s one thing being allowed to reopen — with all the attendant costs — however, it’s quite another when people don’t return in the same numbers as pre-pandemic.

And according to the Mental Health Foundation, millions of UK adults have felt, panicked, afraid and unprepared”, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For months, the industry has been saying that it should be allowed to reopen because it is safe. But the evidence suggests that many of us are of a different opinion. So what needs to be done to restore the equilibrium?

Sadly, the ‘build it and they will come’ era is well and truly over. The pandemic firmly put that one to bed. And with increased knowledge and understanding of how the virus is transmitted, many of us now realise that some hand sanitiser and a few screens offers little protection.

Because solutions that were once thought to be ‘safe’ now need to become ‘smart’ in order to entice us back.

Here at SafePrem® Solutions, we are fortunate to have a number of market leading partners who, together, transform any indoor space into not only a safe environment, but a smart one too.

Qudini is a leading booking and appointment app, Toodle provide menu and payment apps which smooth the path for customers and hugely boost productivity for restaurants and bars. Kastus deliver unrivalled surface protection which instils confidence, and Clenzair provide clean air, free from all bacteria and virus. And for much larger space, The Indoor Lab provides the best in tracking people flow.

The journey from safe to smart is in its infancy, however, if the Covid cautious continue to live in fear of the virus, that journey is surely going to be accelerated. After, all, we’ve all got to come in from the cold eventually.

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Andrew Busby

Global Industry Leader Retail at Software AG, founder Retail Reflections, best selling author, former Forbes contributor, global retail influencer.