Reassuring the public on the safety of hospitality spaces will be critical upon reopening, and pubs, bars and restaurants must look to achieve a “covid-super-secure” operation, Rare Restaurants CEO Martin Williams has said.

Speaking at MCA’s The Conversation, the Gaucho and M Restaurants boss said that now the definition of a ‘covid-secure’ site has been established, and that 99% of businesses adhere to very good practice, it will be up to the industry to “ramp up the volume” on communicating its safety measures.

Unlike reopening circumstances last summer, the existence and roll-out of vaccines and rapid testing provides businesses with a more conducive context in which to operate, but Williams said it will be vital that national and local authorities use both elements to drive consumer confidence.

As part of a newly formed lobbying group of Central London business leaders, Williams told The Conversation host Peter Martin that he has made calls to the Lord Mayor to focus on encouraging people back to the City through rapid testing.

“Step one is the public transport; step two is to refocus on testing,” he said. “Vaccination is a bit of a one trick pony.

“It’s the Government’s focus because they have one shot at getting it right, but we need to go back to testing because that will become part of part of our culture in going work, feeling safe going to work, and potentially feeling safe going into restaurants.”

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls OBE agreed, adding that the trade body was working with business group’s across the capital – London First, the CBI and the FSB – to communicate the need to encourage workers to return to public transport and central offices.

Nicholls explained that a recent scheme launched by the Government will allow employers with over 50 workers to access a central portal for ordering lateral flow tests for employees, and that smaller employers will be given the option to purchase tests through their local authorities.

“It is going to be a way of demonstrating that you’ve got a safe environment within which to work and encourage people back to work,” she said. “That will be important for travelling on public transport and the office infrastructure.”

And it will also have a more direct impact on hospitality in time, she added, as tests are used more frequently as an enabler to open parts of the sector including nightclubs, music venues and conferences.

“Lateral flow tests will be more important than any discussions around vaccine passports will ever be,” she said. “Over time, you will be able to use them as an enabler to get into places like The O2 and big trade shows if you can show you have a negative test before entry.”