The UK's fish and chips businesses hope measures they have put in place will prepare them in the event of second coronavirus spike as they welcome a 15 percent cut in value-added tax (VAT) announced recently by the country's finance minister.
The UK's 10,500 fish and chip shops -- a critical driver of seafood consumption across the country -- have staged a remarkable comeback after as many as 80 percent of shop owners flipped their window signs to "closed" as the country went into lockdown to avoid the spread of contagion in March.
They have done so by implementing a string of innovative measures, including working back-to-back in kitchens, creating separate click-and-collect lines outside shops, and establishing click-and-collect collection points inside.
Contactless payments and scheduled pick up times have also helped to smooth operations.
Some shop owners, including Andrew Crook, president of the National Fish Fryers Federation (NFFF) President, still do not allow customers back inside their premises, something that may rankle once the weather turns colder.
Is recovery shortlived?
While business has been flourishing, especially in coastal towns during the summer, there are fears the recovery may be damaged by a second spike in cases as the winter months approach or by local lockdowns such as the one imposed on the East Midlands city of Leicester.
"I think we have got the technology there to cope with anything now and the knowledge of how to manage it," Crook said.
"The big shock and awe from the kicking off of the national lockdown hopefully is a thing of the past and we will just have to manage localized stuff."
On the downside the high cost of insurance for delivery vehicles is a problem for shop owners who in some cases have turned to bicycles and taxis to get meals to customers.
While still awaiting for clear official guidance on the wearing of face masks by staff and customers, Crook is full of praise for the way the government has stepped in to help businesses, including its £2 billion (€2.2 billion/$2.5 billion) job creation initiative for 16-24 year olds.
Earlier this month UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to give 50 percent off to people dining out in August and cut VAT for the hospitality industry under a £30 billion (€32.9 billion/$37.7 billion) package of measures aimed at preventing mass unemployment as the economy continues to be buffeted by coronavirus fallout.
The government also intends to pay firms a £1,000 (€1,098/$1,255) bonus for every staff member kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October.
No such thing as plain sailing
But the 15 percent VAT cut to 5 percent put in place until Jan. 12 doesn't mean it will be all plain sailing for fish and chip shops.
Competitors running eat-in restaurants and pubs have been handed a lifeline of government sponsored discounts of up to £10 (€10.98/$12.56) on meals during August to encourage customers to dine out as part of incentives to get the economy moving again.
To counter this the National Fish Fryers Federation is advising fish and chip shop owners to develop the marketing and online sides of their businesses during the period such as those being introduced by McDonalds and Burger King.
"I do think the hospitality does need this help so we can't really complain but as a takeaway we have got to realize it could affect our early week trade but with the VAT reduction it gives the ability to do some targeted promotions for those days or just get us through August."
To help them get through this difficult period fish and chip shop owners are also turning to deferals of VAT payments and so called 'bounce back' loans
Last week as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped the country will return to normality by Christmas.
Johnson said the public could return to sports stadiums from October, should test events be successful.