Three Weeks into the Coronavirus Lockdown I popped out for some grocery essentials. It was a nice sunny morning about 18c, pleasant walking conditions. On a non working day I would at this point get a newspaper or two and make my way to one of the many Coffee Shops for a Hand Crafted Brew.
These are not usual times and Eastbourne Railway Station was virtually empty and the concourse was strangely impressive despite both Coffee shops and the Newsstand being closed.
With restrictions in place for sometime now, I am more conscious than ever for the need to get decent food so I made my way to Marks & Spencer, who have a reputation for quality produce. I passed several closed down Coffee Shops along the way.
I arrive at my destination and there is a queue system in place. Only a limited amount of people are allowed in at a time and this is efficiently controlled by two staff members who also wipe the baskets with sanitizer should you want one.
I appreciated the professionalism and control demonstrated in Marks & Spencer and left the food hall with enough supplies to last throughout the Bank Holiday Weekend.
Most people are social distancing and the customers all were doing fancy footwork to keep out of one another’s way but even so it’s a risk so I got out fairly quickly. Apperently in a study from Finland they discovered that droplets from a simple cough could carry across two isles in a Supermarket and stay in the air longer than one would expect. With some of the horrible images and shocking stories currently in the news only a fool would want to take more risks than necessary.
On the way home I reflected how much has changed over the last few weeks. I suppose we all take for granted the daily possibility to walk into a coffee shop and have someone prepare a drink exactly how you want it and to be able to sit where you can gather your thoughts, charge your phone, tap into their WiFi and meet up with people.
Just before the Lockdown, various coffee houses started to take their own measures to counter the growing threat to health. Re-usable cup were no longer accepted, extra space was spaced out between chairs and enhanced cleaning was put into action. There was then a short period of 3 days leading up to the Lockdown where only ‘Take Out’ was possible.
There are likely to be difficult times ahead for the hospitality sector with customer confidence and lifestyle habits being reset. Another factor is that even though there are good coffee crops this year the price is on an upwards trend. Coffee from Brazil is currently being traded for a high of £85 for a 60kg bag due to stockpiling and global supply chain issues. Milk producers are also having difficulties with large quantities being poured away due to cancelled orders from closed coffee chains.
For sure it will be strange when Lockdown restrictions ease up but before that everyone’s health comes first.
Once I got home I unpacked my shopping, washed my hands and made myself a nice Cortado using Illy Classico Coffee. Be safe everyone.