WETHERSPOON has broken its silence over how it expects to reopen its arsenal of pubs across the North-East.

The company, which has dozens of pubs across the region and two in Darlington, said it will open as soon as it has the official 'go-ahead' from the Government.

Currently, pubs, restaurants and dine-in cafes remain banned under the coronavirus lockdown rules which have been in force for the past eight weeks.

But JD Wetherspoon has revealed how it intends to ensure customers and staff are safe once it is able to reopen.

The Northern Echo:

The William Stead in Darlington Picture: JD WETHERSPOON

The company told The Northern Echo that all of its pubs will have safety screens at till points.

There will also be safety screens to create seating areas where it is not possible to separate the tables to the social distancing requirement.

It said it will provide PPE including gloves, masks and protective eyewear.

Meanwhile, it is understood that every employee will need to complete and sign a daily health assessment questionnaire to confirm that they are fit to work.

This will include having their temperature taken using a digital thermometer.

It added: "Staff will monitor the pubs at all times in order to maintain social distancing standards and there will be a member of staff on the door at peak times.

"The pubs will use one entrance with a separate exit door where possible.

"Customer entry and exit will be marked out by floor stickers and/or barriers and there will be clear printed information providing guidance to customers as they enter the pubs.

"Each pub will have a member of staff working full time (two staff per pub to cover all opening hours) to sanitise all the contact points during opening hours.

"These will include door handles, allergen information screens, card payment machines and hand rails.

"Customers will be asked to use the Wetherspoon order and pay app, wherever possible, or pay at the bar using card and contactless, although cash will be accepted.

"Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the glass and when ordered by the app they will be delivered to the table on a tray and placed on the table using the base of the glass.

"Food will be delivered to the table by a member of floor staff."

It said: "Social distancing measures will result in the employment of two full time staff per pub, slightly more for bigger pubs, who will regularly clean surfaces and touch points throughout the pubs."

The company said it had undertaken extensive employee consultation and has also consulted with many of its suppliers and contractors, as well as referring to UK Hospitality guidelines.

'We are prepared'

Lee Broadley, manager at The William Stead, said: “At present the government have not confirmed any reopening date for pubs.

“However, it is important that we are prepared for any announcement.

“We have spent a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans.

“The safety of staff and customers is paramount.”