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One key example where the population have nimbly bent themselves around lockdown restrictions can be seen in the sunny town and city centres of western Europe, particularly the UK.

As the rules were modified to allow businesses a chance to take in some revenue from the restless public, non-essential outlets such as pubs, bars, and cafes were granted the option of providing take-away services. 

At the same time, social distancing rules went from only being allowed out for one hour of exercise to being allowed out all day in household groups. Within a matter of days, public roads and town squares became unofficial beer gardens with no rules broken, but, how did this happen?

Well, the bars aren’t breaking any rules as they are simply providing a take-away service; no one is actually permitted on their premises. Neither are the public breaking the rules, as they supposedly arrived in small household groups, and bear no responsibility for all the other ‘households’ that happened to be there at the same time. 

In this situation, the loopholes in restriction were fully explored and exploited in a matter of days, resulting in a public street turning into a beer garden, with no party bearing responsibility for what is undeniably a massive social gathering.

Similarly, if a cafe or coffee shop just happens to be located near a public space with places to sit (or space for the public to bring chairs) – as long as the invisible line is never crossed, food is served to-go, and the customers collect their coffee and cake from a window – alfresco dining can take place.

Business should be aware that any efforts they are permitted to make to reach out to the public will be greeted enthusiastically. Indeed, some members of the public are willing to meet business more than half way if it provides something vaguely similar to the things everyone is missing. 

It would be naive to think that neither party was aware of what was happening, or that the offer will be as good as the real thing, but if it’s the closest thing to normality that many have experienced in months, consumers will no doubt engage with unspoken arrangements such as these rather than sitting at home.

For more insight and data, visit the GlobalData Consumer Intelligence Centre

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