Mr Fogg's and Cahoots bars plan socially distanced experiences

There are plans to use beekeeping overalls and gas masks.

Mr Fogg's: plans to use mannequins for seats that need to remain unoccupied
Mr Fogg's: plans to use mannequins for seats that need to remain unoccupied

London bars Mr Fogg’s, Cahoots and Barts are planning experiences that adhere to social-distancing rules while maintaing their character.

The venues are getting ready to reopen by adding elements of humour and escapism to the experience without creating a sterile environment, owner Charlie Gilkes said.

"I can’t see why consumers are going to want to leave their house if they are in a perspex prison," he added.

Measures will include temperature checks for staff, hand-sanitation dispensers at key points throughout the venues, rigorous cleaning routines and a one-way system for entry and exit where possible.

Gilkes is planning to weave some of these rules into the stories created within the venues. There are plans to use Victorian-dressed mannequins styled as characters from Around the World in 80 Days at Mr Fogg’s to take up seats that need to remain unoccupied to allow for social distancing.

As new government guidelines for the hospitality sector are likely to mean that fewer people are permitted on the premises, Gilkes wanted to develop a solution that prevents empty tables and the removal of furniture, in order to maintain the bars' atmosphere.

Whether personal protective equipment is necessary for staff and guests in bars and restaurants has yet to be confirmed by the government, but if necessary Gilkes has devised beekeeping suits that can be worn with masks and gloves.

Other ideas include gas masks at 1940s-themed speakeasy Cahoots, theatrical masks at Barts and inflatable rubber rings at 1980s themed Maggie’s, another bar owned by Gilkes. 

He said: "We have a tough transition period next and things can happen out of our control. But in the medium-to-long term, Zoom and Houseparty are not a replication of seeing friends and family in the flesh and having a night out.

"We all crave experiences and we are the to-do generation. I think that’s going to continue and people will relish experiences more as they’ve had a period in their lives they haven’t been able to have them."