Speaking live on Portsmouth's Express FM radio station on Monday, Becketts Southsea general manager Terence Carvalho looked ahead to the reopening of his business on May 17, in line with the government’s roadmap out of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Featuring on the station’s Afternoons with Ian James programme, a delighted Carvalho [pictured] told listeners of how he simply could not wait to get back into work and was eagerly looking forward to the reception of Becketts' new menu launch that will be happening to mark its return to business.
He said “I am really looking forward to opening Becketts up again next week. It will be great to open up our venues and get back to serving great food.
“I also cannot wait to see our regular customers and my team again. I am fortunate to have a fantastic team, easily one of the best in the city of Portsmouth, who are so good at what they do. They are the best staff working at the best venue in the city and I cannot wait.
“I would describe our menu as being British-Modern cuisine, and we will be celebrating the reopening with a new menu and I am excited to see what our customers think of it!”
Carvalho also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the hospitality industry for the adaptability it has shown during the pandemic, adding that whatever may come to pass with the prevalence of Covid in the UK, he was confident that the sector will be flexible and continue to adjust accordingly.
“Portsmouth is blessed with some incredible venues that need to reopen. Everyone will reopen next week and will be busy and hopefully restrictions will be gone by June and we can all move forward with our lives. This will be contingent on how the virus develops but regardless of how we have to act with Covid-secure procedures or if things are paused, we will just get on with it and as an industry and hopefully are customers will also be responsible in how they behave.”
Carvalho also discussed some of the work that he has undertaken while furloughed by Becketts over the course of the latest lockdown, speaking at length about his new temporary role as a team manager at a local Covid testing site based at Portsmouth Guildhall; a role which involves responsibility for staff welfare, ensuring the facility is effectively running each day and operating in a Covid-secure manner, and making sure that tests return accurate results.
“I’ve been doing this since February, mainly out of a desire to help out the city of Portsmouth,” Carvalho said.
“I am Portsmouth born and bred and I wanted to help the community, to get us open and prevent more lockdowns.”
And Carvalho has no regrets about putting himself on the front-line of the fight against the virus.
“I am not somebody who can sit still. I do not like being sat at home and I needed to keep busy. Hospitality is a terribly busy environment and we’re always busy at Becketts, so I’m not used to sitting at home which was happening during the first lockdown. This time, I had to get out and do something to help the community and I felt I owed it to Portsmouth to do that.”
Initially, once the Becketts business resumes operations next week, Carvalho will balance both roles before relinquishing his position at the Covid test site in the coming months.
“I will be stepping away from the test centre slightly with the reopening of Becketts, but I’ll still be involved initially. I work in hospitality, so I am accustomed to long hours. However, Becketts is the priority for me and when we reopen, we expect to be busy.”
Although Becketts and its entire team can look ahead to Monday with excitement and optimism, it will still be required to operate under Covid-secure procedures.
Carvalho explained: “This won’t be a wholesale return to normal operations. We must abide by the rule of six and only allow two households to mix at one table, so we are essentially reopening as we were before we closed when the most recent lockdown came in, only without the curfew.”
He also reassured any potential customers listening that all Becketts staff will be tested on a weekly basis to ensure the venue remains Covid-free and appealed to members of the community to test themselves regularly, too.
“All staff will be tested weekly to keep them and our customers safe. We will also ask customers to wear masks on entry until they are seated in line with guidance. Demand for tables at Becketts is high so I would encourage people to book their seats as soon as possible if they want to visit.
“I would also encourage members of the community to get tested. We do not want another lockdown; we want to get back to doing what we all love and get people back into Becketts to enjoy themselves without any further disruption. You can get the tests very easily from our testing centre and testing will be in place for some time even when restrictions are removed. The successful vaccine rollout is a small part of things, testing must remain so that we can continue to track the prevalence of the virus in our communities.”