39 percent of Londoners “nervous” about dining out, ahead of lockdown easing


As London restaurants, bars and pubs prepare to open from 12 April, a new survey suggests that some Londoners have concerns over eating out. 39 percent of the 4,052 people surveyed by Lifesum, the world’s leading nutrition app, said they were “nervous or apprehensive” about dining out.

While getting customers to confidently eat outdoors remains a big obstacle for London’s hospitality industry, there is a note of optimism, as 66 percent of Londoners surveyed said they are “looking forward” to dining in a restaurant again. Indoor service is scheduled to resume from 17 May.

Over 70 streets in Central London will see a combination of timed closures and pavement widening to allow for outdoor restaurant and bar seating in the street. Outdoor drinking and dining will be allowed from 12 April – but customers must order, eat and drink while seated at a table.

“There’s much excitement around getting back to normal this summer, but how restaurants, bars and pubs reopen is crucial to their survival strategy,” says Andrew Zimmermann, Behaviour Change Expert at Lifesum. “With social distancing measures and hygiene practices, venues can mitigate risk, but they can’t mitigate FODO (Fear of Dining Out) – nor can it ask customers to ignore their fears.”

Zimmerman has recommended ways to enjoy the new freedom, while minimising the fear. Keep good hygiene practices – hand washing/sanitising and mask wearing can put yourself and others at ease. Keep hand sanitiser and wipes for the table when you sit down. Start small – find a few friends or family members you trust and a restaurant or pub that you are familiar with. Maintain social distancing – look out for places that allow you to keep a safe physical distance outdoors.

From 12 April, the 10pm curfew will end, but customers must also follow either the rule of six, or be in a group of any size as long as there are no more than two households present. When people are not seated, customers must wear a face mask, observe social distancing and follow one-way systems.