How to make your venue Covid-compliant but still look special

Richard Eastwood’s R2A studio is the name behind dozens of inviting bar and restaurant designs. Read his advice for making your venue compliant and cosy when you re-open.

In the past, density has generated the energy and buzz of a space. With any level of distancing the atmosphere will change. But it doesn’t have to be for the worse. The ‘rhythm’ will feel different. Maybe having a less intense atmosphere may create a more relaxed vibe. Ultimately, it’s the people (both staff and customers) who create the atmosphere.


Lighting, as with all schemes, will be key. It should be layered. Think about creating pools of light for tables in restaurants and make them as inviting as possible. They will be your customers’ ‘islands’ for the night.

Richard Eastwood sitting at a table
Lighting in a Restaurant

Natural barriers

Sectioning may be needed in terms of guiding people around the space. This would be better done with planting and softer, natural barriers rather than plastic crowd barriers. We still need to feel the sense of theatre. I personally wouldn’t hang heavy barriers such as drapes – I think visual connection with other people will be something we’ll all be craving. Think intimate yet connected, socially. You need to just feel some security on your island in the archipelago.

Clean but not clinical

Any of your hygiene interventions – hand sanitisers, disposables – need to be considered aesthetically, so they don’t burst the bubble, or lose that sense of theatre. Customers want to soak up the relief and escapism of being finally out of the house. Walking into an environment that’s had all its character sanitised out of it just won’t work.

Richard Eastwood, R2A studio

Restaurant Seating area
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