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The restaurant trade has a PR problem

Creepiest idea of the week so far: a restaurant in Virginia will seat mannequins at half of its tables to make it feel less empty as social distancing is enforced.

That wouldn’t cut it for me. Have the mannequins been tested? Why is that one over there looking at me?

One thing this somewhat odd move makes clear is that the restaurant trade has got a serious PR problem.

Restaurants are germ factories at the best of times, but your spaghetti carbonara is, or at least was, unlikely to kill you.

This mournful, rather brilliant piece from New York suggests the trade has irrevocably changed for ever and maybe much of it lost for good.

Since we can’t agree if schools (full of well-behaved children) are safe, I can’t see how restaurants (full of drunk adults) can possibly be.

This week Italy opens its restaurants and coffee bars, which is either a sign of optimism or a grim experiment.

I think the UK trade needs a co-ordinated effort to show what is being done to make them safe to re-open. Mannequins may not help.


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