Game over for the fabled all you can eat buffet? What self-service restaurants like Toby Calvary plan to do once lockdown ends

Once lockdown lifts, one of the treats many will have on the top of their wishlist is to head out to their local eatery for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Many will look to head to a buffet when they are back in operation - perhaps for a Chinese or Indian feast, a roast or a restaurant to take advantage of the unlimited salad bar, all normal activities pre-lockdown.  But with the coronavirus pandemic changing the way we conduct our everyday lives, will buffet-style restaurants even be able to open again? Aside from the issue of social distancing, by nature, a buffet will be tricky to conform to health and safety standards due to the large number of people eating from the same batch of food. Big chain restaurants with a buffet style operation look to draw customers in and it is crucial to their business model to be able to keep costs low. Ordering from your mobile phone is a practice already used in other settings, such as Wetherspoons, and is one surefire way to avoid unnecessary contact.  Paying by card is another initiative that most shops are currently pushing at the moment in order to avoid the handling of cash.  Pizza Hut added that it has introduced enhanced safety measures in its kitchens, including increased handwashing and sanitisation and it will implement new cleaning measures across all of its restaurants. 'To start with, we will serve a simplified menu, but we're also working on new offers so guests can still enjoy their favourite all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and Ice Cream Factory experience, but delivered to their table.' Meanwhile, Mitchell and Butlers, which looks after popular buffet chains Toby Carvery which offers roast dinners in which diners help themselves and Harvester, popular for its unlimited salad bar, is not able to explain exactly how it will be making changes in the future.  A Mitchell and Butlers spokesperson said: 'We continue to review and assess how our businesses will operate once permitted to reopen.  'Safety is our highest priority and we are developing a number of robust measures to protect both our customers and team members.' '  Another industry facing major problems is the hotel sector with most offering a breakfast buffet for their customers.  However, due to the recent changes, this is no longer possible to run with Travelodge saying they have closed all restaurant operations in response to the coronavirus.  Instead, customers can purchase a breakfast box from reception that they can take to their rooms and eat.  Other hotels are considering similar courses of action when they reopen with the potential for room service to also be provided.   Other countries that are emerging from lockdown have been trialling different ways of opening restaurants.  Amsterdam has installed a number of greenhouse style pods outside of restaurants that seats up to four customers.  Waiters wear plastic shields to protect themselves as they deliver the food to the customers, with minimal contact taking place.  Meanwhile, in Austria, restaurants must adhere to a set of rules, including a maximum number of four adults per table and a minimum of one metre left between groups.  Waiters will also be required to wear masks while taking orders and serving dishes.  In Spain, some restaurants were trialing putting plastic screens in between tables so that diners were separated when seated.  Waiters are also made to wear face masks and rubber gloves to protect themselves and customers.  Other countries are likely to have similar measures in place when they are able to reopen their restaurants again.