Liverpool restaurants explain why they're sticking with masks even after Freedom Day - The Guide Liverpool

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Liverpool restaurants explain why they’re sticking with masks even after Freedom Day

17/07/2021

The lifting of Covid restrictions on Monday’s ‘Freedom Day’ means there’ll be no law making mask wearing compulsory indoors anymore.

The Government has said it’s leaving it up to each person’s judgement as to whether they choose to wear one or not, although it has recommended face coverings in crowded spaces like public transport.

But lots of retailers, including huge names like Aldi and Waterstones, have already announced that they’ll still be encouraging customers to put a mask on while they’re in-store and it’ll still be compulsory on Mersey Ferries.

Several Liverpool restaurants have also decided to keep masks as an additional safety measure after doing some research with staff and customers.

Phil Starling, who co-owns The Watering Can in Greenbank Park with partner Keith Perryman, says they have had almost unanimous backing from customers after announcing they were not going to scrap them.

“When we posted on social media to let everyone know that we weren’t going to support the relaxation of mask wearing, 99% of the comments were in support,” he says. “There were only a handful saying they wouldn’t visit us, so for now people do seem happy to carry on wearing one and it just feels like the right thing to do.

“In reality it is an emotive subject so it could be a different ball game once we start asking people if they’ve got a mask and they haven’t, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.”

Phil says he’s seen mixed feelings from customers over Monday’s lifting of restrictions.

“I think some are excited about it being Freedom Day and some aren’t too sure and for the sake of just wearing a mask when they’re coming in or walking around, they’d rather still rather do it.”

He explains that high rates of Covid in and around Greenbank Park have been one of the factors in their decision.

“The Greenbank area was always in the top 3 of Liverpool Covid statistics and for a long time it was at number one – at one point it was actually six times the national average – so we’ve also got to bear that in mind.

“I think we’ve got to be a lot more vigilant because of where we are but we’ll review the policy regularly and obviously we’ll be closely watching the stats from the council to see how things are going, which we’ve done right the way through the pandemic.”

Maray restaurant owners have also taken the decision to keep mask wearing in place for the teams at their sites in Bold Street, Allerton Road and the Albert Dock, although they won’t be insisting customers do it too.

They did a survey of customers to find out if they planned to still wear a mask, would expect staff inside venues to wear one and if they’d feel uncomfortable being somewhere people didn’t have them on.

Co-founder Tom White explains: It’s important for us to balance several things. The wellbeing of our staff and guests remains paramount, we also need to consider the beliefs, wants and needs of people who are both pro-relaxation and anti-relaxation – and our data suggests there is a pretty even split between these two camps, at least amongst our guests.

“We understand there are vulnerable people out there that want to feel comfortable eating with us, and we also understand that there are those who desperately want life to return to normal and embrace the freedom and liberty now given to us.

“So we won’t be throwing off the shackles in a celebratory, knee-jerk fashion come Monday. In fact the majority of our safe working policies remain the same.”

He added that the Maray team would continue to wear face masks and the restaurants would carry on operating at a reduced capacity to maintain social distancing, as well as keeping up a strict hygiene and cleaning routine.

But, he said, the most difficult decision to make had been around customers wearing masks, especially as it’s no longer legally required.

“While it remains advisory to wear them in enclosed spaces, and it is certainly our preference that guests do this, we respect that it is now a personal preference.

“As such we cannot put our staff in a position where they have to enforce a rule that is no longer required by law. It’s far and above their responsibility, so it will remain up to our guests whether they wear them or not.”

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