The public is warned to keep up their guard when eating and drinking inside restaurants, pubs and fast food outlets resumes on Monday (17 May), as a Unite the union survey reveals hospitality staff are worried about social distancing with restrictions easing.

Unite, which represents hospitality, catering and hotel staff across the UK, today (Friday 14 May) urged customers not to be complacent from Monday and respect waiting staff, especially as concerns about the Indian variant of Covid-19 grow.

Unite is carrying out an ongoing survey of its members at McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza which shows that lack of social distancing between colleagues and customers, as well as lack of sick pay if forced to self-isolate, remain major concerns.

Unite national officer with responsibility for hospitality Dave Turnbull said: “Our members are keen to start back serving customers inside restaurants, pubs and fast food outlets from Monday after a traumatic 15 months that has wreaked havoc for the sector.

“However, there is a no room for complacency from the public as there seems to be a widespread perception that the crisis is now over – with the alarming news about the spread of the Indian variant this is far from true.

“Our message to customers is simple: ‘Have a great time, but please respect your waiting staff, bartenders and counter service workers’.

“While our members are eager to start serving meals and pulling pints, a snapshot survey of our members at the major fast food chains – McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza – reveals a degree of legitimate apprehension that hospitality employers should seriously take note of and act on.

“It should be remembered that many of those working in hospitality are young people who will have not yet had their first dose of the vaccine.

“Our members are concerned about the possible lack of social distancing between colleagues and customers, as well as lack of sick pay if forced to self-isolate.

“Unite will be keeping a close watch on how our hospitality members are faring in the weeks and months ahead – and will take the necessary action with the employer over any concerns that are raised.”