RESTAURANTS are getting ready to reopen next weekend.

Owners across Sussex are excited, but also cautious as they digest what the Government’s new safety guidance means for their businesses.

They will have to keep their tables apart, introduce hand-sanitising stations and rigorous cleaning to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Shared salt and pepper shakers on the table could be a thing of the past, and restaurants will be asked to collect customers’ details so they can be traced if there is a Covid-19 outbreak.

For all the challenges ahead, restaurants in the county have welcomed the news that after more than three months, they will be able to bring customers back inside.

A manager at Very Italian Pizza, which has branches in Brighton and Saltdean, said she couldn’t wait to see diners return in person.

The business has been busy with takeaway orders, but she said: “I really miss being with people – I can’t wait to open after all these months.”

She was “95 per cent sure” everything would be in place to reopen on July 4.

Others are taking more time. Michelin Starred Restaurant Interlude in Brighton Road, Horsham, will be available for bookings from July 10.

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The Curry Leaf Café in Brighton expects to open a little after July 4, to give it extra time to prepare.

Restaurants will have their work cut out as they strive to comply with the new guidelines.

MasterChef star Kenny Tutt has been thinking about how to reopen Pitch, his restaurant in Warwick Street, Worthing, for months.

Kenny, who won the hit TV show in 2018, said he was “thrilled” at the prospect of opening next weekend and getting back in the kitchen – and explained the restaurant’s detailed plans.

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There will be temperature checks for staff, who will wear face masks and work in fixed teams.

The restaurant will reduce the number of diners by about a third, stagger bookings, and introduce hygiene stations.

There will be digital menus, handrails and door handles will be sanitised every 15-30 minutes, and seating around the bar area has been removed.

Salt and pepper will be available on request, and sugar will be served in individual packets.

Kenny said the restaurant is planning to keep diners one and a half metres apart to help them feel at ease.

Restaurateurs like Kenny are doing what they can, but they are not in the clear yet.

He said: “The worry is there will be a big whoosh of customers only for it to die down after.”

They may be able to open their doors soon, but the certainty restaurant owners crave is still a long way off.

And caution is still the key word for restaurateurs and diners alike.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has said he expects people to continue to use “common sense” and follow government guidelines when the lockdown is eased on July 4.

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The Government says people should only visit a restaurant in their household groups or support bubbles, with one other household, or with up to five other people outdoors.

Diners should be prepared to help restaurants keep a temporary record of their visitors for 21 days, and they will also be encouraged to use contactless payments.

The Government guidance says that when necessary, restaurant owners will also need to inform customers that police and the local authorities have the power to enforce social distancing requirements.

The police may instruct customers to disperse, leave an area, issue a fixed penalty notice or alternatively take further enforcement action.