As the UK hospitality industry reopens, one of the most important issues facing owners and managers is whether or not front of house staff should wear masks. (Of course the Kitchen staff will all need to wear them).

In the USA, restaurants and bars have stayed open through the pandemic and masks have been strongly recommended in most states.

Because of this there are plenty of online comments on the subject of face coverings that may provide lessons for us to learn from.

Here’s a selection of excerpts you might find useful.

I was more than a little dismayed that xxxx Group restaurants are not requiring their servers to wear masks as they serve patrons.

As owners of some of the most popular restaurants in my area, I would expect them to be more responsible while Coronavirus (COVID 19) is still circulating.

I, for one, will take my business elsewhere, where they respect the health of their customers.

I would very much appreciate a bit more of an engaging marketing… if you are going to post wearing a mask… it simply kills my appetite … sorry

Reply from owner:

If i post right now without a mask, people will not come near us as they assume we are not following the law! No one wants to ditch the mask more than me! Trust me!

“We are scared,” one employee told us. “Please don’t use my name, I have to have a job. We just wanted people in the community who have dined with us a lot to know we are not safe. It’s not safe for anyone. We should at least been given a choice.

Another employee said that they were told the masks did not “go with the style” of the company’s eateries.

For some diners, seeing staff members wearing masks is a comfort. For others, the masks provoke anxiety, he said. If guests ask to be waited on by someone without a mask, and the waiter is willing, the restaurant will accommodate them.

“I personally would have felt just fine if they hadn’t worn masks,” he said. “I understand why they were doing it, but a big part of dining in restaurants is that you have a warm experience that is sometimes about more than the food. It’s hard to deny the fact that seeing your server’s face is part of that.”

She had worn a mask when she walked in, and was glad that xxxxxx, her server, wore one, too.

“I don’t eat just anywhere, and I am not going to other places that have opened,” “But I’ve been here enough, and I see what they’re doing with the cleaning and the gloves and the masks to know I’m safe.”

Some say visible signs of sanitation, including masks, will simply become the new mark of hospitality, layered into operations in the way health codes, licensing requirements or advances in technology like online reservations have been.

“Now, hospitality means you are going to have to demonstrate this stuff,” said Alex Susskind, a professor at Cornell University and director of its food and beverage institute.

Restaurant owners are pondering whether they should be surgical-style paper coverings, which are relatively plentiful, inexpensive and can be changed with each new group of diners, or a clear plastic shield worn like a necklace. Some are considering adding the restaurant’s logo.

About the author : David Ellis