What it's really like dining out at social distancing restaurants – and why it WON'T work post-lockdown

A TOURIST in Thailand has warned that social distancing cafes and restaurants DON'T work with restrictions and people won't return for a long time.

Niall Harbison, who runs the website Big7 Travel, experienced it for himself while living in the country.

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Originally from Ireland, he attempted to go for dinner with his partner after the lockdown in Thailand was partially lifted.

He explained: "The first obligatory stop was at the hand sanitiser station, an absolute essential for all restaurants to have at the entrance.

"Temperature checks are also just something you do five times a day when entering premises here."

However, he also said that it becomes second nature when trying to enter a restaurant to follow all of the safety procedures, and aren't difficult to do.

Despite picking a restaurant with a sea-view and open terrace, as well as having good food and service, he said the whole scenario "wasn't the least bit enjoyable."

Niall said: "Staff outnumbered us 6-2 and all wore masks.

"Usually you have some time to linger over the menu with a drink, but as the only customers the waiting staff were obviously with us in a flash, taking orders instantly.

"The food was whisked out to us from the quiet kitchen in record time.

"Looking across the table at somebody wearing a mask and being served by somebody who is clearly happy to see you, but unable to fully show off that smile is disconcerting, and quite frankly, not that enjoyable."

He added that by being with someone you had also been isolating with for weeks, you have "nothing new to say to each other that hasn’t been repeated ad nauseam," saying the whole point of eating at a restaurant with friends is the social experience.

Niall called the experience "lonely" with "blocked off tables, lack of chatter [and] the missing buzz in the room".

He warned: "Restaurants with social distancing are clearly going to have a hard time adapting.

"Even more importantly, so will customers.

"For restauranteurs and the regular punter, I hate to say it but most of our worst fears were confirmed.

"Hopefully it will change quickly, but for now it just isn’t all that much fun."

Restaurants and pubs are yet to open again in the UK, although the government hopes to be able to end some of the measures in the hospitality industry by July.

A terrifying video has shown how coronavirus can spread in a restaurant in just 30 minutes – after just one person is infected.

Scientists from Japan recreated the atmosphere at a buffet restaurant or on a cruise ship to look at how far the deadly bug can travel indoors.

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