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COVID 19 - An update from Caroline and Phil

19 October 2021 | Phil Ervine
COVID 19 - An update from Caroline and Phil

4 June 2021

Our very first tour in 8 months has finally happened. HOORAY! If you have a credit with us that you’d like to use then please check for a tour that suits with availability here and drop us an email on [email protected] with the info and we’ll get you booked on. If you have a voucher that expired during lockdown, it has been extended until 31 December 2021, you just need to book by then, the tour can take place after this date. More info can be found here Frequently Asked Questions

15 April 2021

Well aren’t we all very excited… I don’t know what to book first! Thanks to so many of you for your patience. Whilst venues are reopening outside, we believe a big part of our tours is ensuring that our guests see the inside of the places we visit, are dry and comfortable and are able to enjoy their food and drinks whilst hearing the stories from our guides. Therefore we will not be reopening until we can go inside venues and after venues have had a little time to get used to the new rules (of which I am sure there will be some) and in most cases, new staff! Dates are now available to book from Friday 4th June until the end of August. Please email [email protected] to rebook any postponed tours. We aren’t using the rebook and postponed email addresses anymore, so don’t panic if you get a bounce back email. We are also extending the end of June deadline for rebooking to the end of December 2021. So there’s plenty of time to get touring. We are really looking forward to seeing you all very soon!

15 March 2021

How are we all? Yes, we are still here! We have published dates up until the second week of July in the hope we will get going in the not too distant future. We are getting a new website and all dates will be published for the rest of the year there. If you have a credit with us, you will receive an account with your credit ready to be used and you can rebook yourself and move your date as you wish. The only tour that hasn’t been published is Belfast Bites. We do intend to run these tours again but we need to see the lay of the land when venues reopen before making decisions on start times and route, but we will let you know here as soon as it’s ready to go. Hopefully we will see you all soon, and here’s to a more positive summer! We will review this again on 15 April when we hear the update from the Executive.

18 February 2021

Well, let’s face it, imagine letting us all loose for the first time since Christmas and it being St Patrick’s Day… so it doesn’t come as a shock that we are locked up until April.. I jest obviously, but what else is there to do… virtual events I guess! Hopefully with the rise in temperature and ongoing vaccinations, we will be allowed out in April. We will update you again on 18th March and stay safe!

21 January 2021

I hadn’t even heard the news and the emails are coming in, boy, some of you guys are quick off the mark! So lockdown has been extended until 5th March. Truly hoping, for all of us, that this is the final big lockdown so everything is crossed here.

We are getting a new website so have not advertised dates past the end of March, please don’t panic! We will have dates online by the middle of February, hopefully sooner, so please keep a look out here and on our social media, as we will make sure it’s on all our channels that dates are ready to be booked! If you would like to be emailed about this, drop us an email [email protected]

If you have had a booking postponed, simply email us the date you would like to book on to when you are ready to do so. As we have no option but to postpone tours, and similarly you are not allowed to partake in any, so we are rebooking all guests on to alternative dates, and unlike a concert we are not cancelling them, therefore we are not providing refunds on tickets or vouchers.

If you have a voucher that expired at the end of December 2020, don’t panic, all vouchers have been extended until end of June 2021. This date of end of June will be kept under review. You just have to rebook by then, you don’t even have to take a tour by then. We are getting a new website so hence the delay in getting dates added after March, this will allow you to use your credit and book yourself on and indeed move dates. We will also be launching more online experiences, which have been brilliant throughout December!

24th December 2020

Well we are back in lockdown and therefore tours are paused once again. If you have had a booking postponed, simply email us the date you would like to book on to when you are ready to do so. As we have no option but to postpone tours, and similarly you are not allowed to partake in any, so we are rebooking all guests on to alternative dates, and unlike a concert we are not cancelling them, therefore we are not providing refunds on tickets or vouchers.

If you have a voucher that expires at the end of December 2020, don’t panic, all vouchers have been extended until end of June 2021. You just have to rebook by then, you don’t even have to take a tour by then. We will be adding new dates after March over the Christmas holidays and we will also be launching more online experiences, which has been brilliant throughout December!

More than anything, thank you for your support and kindness and most of all patience. We are as gutted as you not to be touring and showing you our Belfast. But as they say… this too, in time, will pass… Take care and Merry Christmas from Team Taste and Tour!

20th November 2020

What a game of snakes and ladders this is…. it’s very hard to believe that we are having to postpone again even though we had contacted guests to advise them that their tours would be going ahead from 27th November onwards. We will be in touch, again… the admin involved, again, is huge. You have been wonderfully patient, and we are as tired of this as you are.. but we will get there in the end!!

13th November 2020

Well we FINALLY got a date and are able to tour again from 27th November 2020. If you have bookings that are affected by these current restrictions, we will be in touch. You can rebook any date with availability, postpone your tickets and rebook any time so long as it’s booked by 30th June 2021 (the tour can take place after this) or use your credit towards our Belfast Food Tour in a Box!

9th November 2020

We wait…. We wait for the Executive to decide if hospitality can open on Friday 14th as previously intimated. If restaurants and cafes can’t serve alcohol, then we can tour but it wouldn’t be what you have paid! Let’s face it, a Gin Jaunt without gin would be a strange affair. So we wait…. like you, until we hear what they eventually decide.

14th October 2020

We cannot believe we are writing this again, but we have just heard the news, just like you have, over our coffee this morning when we turned on the news. We know the hospitality industry have gone above and beyond, and in turn, so have we, to do everything they could in their power to keep you all safe. Once again, we will be in touch with everyone who is booked on to tours for the next 4 weeks. Please be patient, we are still on fewer staff than pre covid.. and please be kind… yet again we are having to pause our business without support and without income. We will be in touch.

6th October 2020

With further changes, we have also changed our practices, so as ever, we wanted to keep you up to date with the measures we, and the venues we visit have put in place.

Guests must bring masks on tour, unless exempt. These must be worn when required.

We are contacting everyone in a group of 3 or more in order to obtain household information prior to going on tour. Everyone is being seated as per their booking, however if you are a booking of more than 2 households, we are seating you apart, but at the next table. Most of the venues we visit provide us with a private room so we are still very much together, just safely socially distanced.

For groups of 2, we are obtaining contact details at the start of the tour of everyone who is in a different household within that pair. We will hold this information for the venues, as they are legally obliged to keep this for Track and Trace purposes for 21 days. After this, the information will be deleted.

When new tickets are purchases, customers will be automatically asked to supply this information but a lot of our tickets have been bought prior to these changes.

We want to ensure that everyone not only feels safe, but is as safe as possible on our tours. As we have previously mentioned, group sizes have been halved, we have received our Good To Go Certificate and you will get to use a lot of our gin based hand sanitiser as you tour! See you on tour!

10th September 2020

Here we are and another update from Stormont… The good news is that our hospitality venues are adhering and enforcing the rules and that means we are still Good To Go! The issues appear to be when we are in our own homes and we don’t have those same rules that the hospitality industry have to adhere. Tours continue, safety prevails and we will see you soon!

20th August 2020

With an update from the Health Minister, we have received some enquiries as to whether tours are proceeding this weekend. The short answer is, yes they are! We have had three weeks of successful, small tours and guests have remarked and reviewed how well organised they are and how they felt safe.

We have received our Good To Go certification (as detailed in our update below) as we have taken numerous measures to ensure the safety of our guests and tour guides.  Restaurants, shops and bars that serve food are all still open and taking the highest precautions.

The new restrictions are focused on 'house parties' and those meeting outside, as some have got out of hand and aren't using any of the precautions found in the venues we visit.

If this changes, you will be the first to know!

29th July 2020

It's been a long time coming (137 days to be precise!), but we are DELIGHTED to announce that we are GOOD TO GO and resuming tours this weekend and we even have some space remaining!!

The Good to Go certificate is an industry standard and means we can demonstrate that we are adhering to the Government and Public health Guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that we have the required processes in place.

In summary, we have halved the number of guests on tour, our guides are fully trained and up to speed with all the changes to ensure you have a smooth arrival, exit and experience at venues, and we have also checked that all venues are also adhering to Government guidelines.

Our guides will be wearing protective visors, so you can still see their happy faces, and will have hand sanitiser - both locally produced, obviously! If you would feel comfortable wearing a mask, then please do!

We are in the process of directly contacting all guests who have been postponed as well as all gift voucher holders - please bear with us as there are quite a few of you to get to!!

25th July 2020

At the moment, all is looking well for tours next weekend! We will be in touch with guests who are booked on to those tours on Monday, 27th July 2020 and we will be in touch with all postponed guests in order of tour date as well as voucher holders. We have held places for postponed guests so don’t fear, we will get everyone sorted. As ever, thank you for your patience and we will see you soon!

ps if you wish to postpone your tour that you have booked, just let us know by emailing [email protected] asap.

3rd July 2020

When word came that venues were able to reopen on 3rd July, we thought we would give them some time before we arrived in with tours. We announced we were tentatively looking to resume touring on 18th July as the queries about booking were coming thick and fast.

We contacted the venues in order to set up the plans for our arrival in a few weeks and it has now transpired that a good few venues are not rushing to open for various reasons (ongoing works, size just doesn't allow them to make enough profit to make it worth their while etc), sadly some are not opening again, and others need a little longer before they know how to bring a small group of us in, or indeed even outside.

So we have, again, had to make a call. Do we offer tours to get the ball rolling so not to disappoint our guests and change a stop here or there, or do we postpone for another two weeks and see where we all are and provide the tour that our guests have been long waiting for.. you'll already know the answer! We are not the type to put profit over experience. We could go ahead and run successful tours right now and our guests would enjoy them, but we know by just giving it another few weeks to let the venues settle in, we can run the best tour we possibly can!

We hope to offer tours as and when the venues are ready to go, we are looking at 1st August. So all tours might not be able to run but if we can get some up and running before the others, then happy days! As ever, we will keep you updated as soon as we know anything and contact you before the dates go live for this tour again.

As an aside are also working on offering our guests the ability to take a self guided tour using your mobile phone. We have been working on this for a while now, and are really trying to push it over the line and be able to offer it to guests as an alternative to a group tour.

Again, thank you for your patience and we are really sorry to have to postpone longer than we had thought, but as ever, we will be in touch when we can offer you the best possible tour we can give you!

If you have vouchers, they position remains unchanged and if you have tickets, the options below to rebook or have your tickets held until you decide as and when you want to tour, providing they are used to rebook by end of June 2021, but the tour can be after that date.

We really, really, appreciate all the well wishes, you guys rock, really you do :)

18th June 2020

It looks like we will be postponing tours for another few weeks, but not much longer which is brilliant news!

Now we have a date for restaurants and bars etc re-opening, we will be contacting our customers (but we like to get all our ducks in order first so please bear with us).  We want to let the venues get used to their 'new normal' before introducing tours. Therefore we hope to start touring again on 17th July next.  We are updating the tour dates at the moment, reducing tour group sizes etc so that's part of the duck arranging :)

At the moment, we can offer two options to all our guests who have had a tour postponed or who wish to delay touring a little longer:

1. REBOOK

We can transfer you to a tour that suits you, with availability, from 17th July onwards.

Click here to view tour availability >> TOUR AVAILABILITY

Decide which tour you would like to transfer to and email us [email protected]

2. POSTPONE

If you wish to have your tickets 'held' until 30th June 2021, please email [email protected]

During this period, you can book and reschedule a tour at any time. We will keep this date under review and keep in touch with with guests.

We will be adding tours on additional dates and more tours on dates that are already busy, and increasing numbers on tours if it is safe to do so, therefore if you don't see a date straightaway, do check back on our website every so often!

Thanks again for your patience!

Caroline and Phil

______________________________

15th June 2020

With so many eager beavers looking to find out what’s happening withe their tours after 27th June (the date we have postponed tours until), we have been waiting to hear from the Executive before emailing you again. As I am sure you have heard there is an imminent announcement due regarding the reopening of bars and restaurants etc. Obviously there’s no point emailing you until we have heard the date for reopening as we will know much more in a day or two.

We have been offering guests two options. To rebook onto a date in the future by emailing [email protected] or postpone their booking until they are ready to rebook by emailing [email protected] All bookings should be made by end of June 2021 however the tour can take place after that date.

We will be in touch as soon as we hear from the Executive and thanks again for bearing with us!

12th May 2020

We have finally received an update from the Government, and we are sure that you feel the same as us - it’s all a little unclear. What is clear is that we want to tour again as soon as it is possible to safely do so. We are in communication with the venues we visit to keep up to speed with the changes that they will be initiating, and we too will be implementing changes to ensure we adhere to the social distancing requirements and more.

A risk assessment will be carried out once we have enough venues operating again, but we, like you, don’t know exactly when that will be. The Northern Ireland Executive has published their plan (without dates) as it will be led by public health criteria being met before moving on to the next stage of easing the lockdown.

It looks like hospitality will be one of the last sectors to open so we have made the decision to contact all guests up until the end of June to postpone or rebook their tours. We will be in touch with each and every one of you but as there are only two of us in the office (working remotely!) at the moment, we would ask for your patience.

Once again, thank you to all of our customers, past and future guests for all of your kind words of support, your positive responses to postponing tours and generally for keeping us buoyed!

Take care and we will be in touch!

Caroline and Phil

16th March 2020

Despite a weekend of successful tours, we recognise that the looming lockdown is a matter of timing and wholly inevitable. As a small business, we rely on tours taking place, just as venues rely on us visiting them and producers rely on us purchasing from them. However tackling this virus, keeping those who are most vulnerable safe and expediting the end of this ‘new normal’ is paramount. We have a moral responsibility to do what we can to 'flatten the curve'.

We have taken the really tough, but we believe correct, decision to postpone tours for the next two months, as the current pandemic isn’t going away any time soon unless we all make huge changes to our social behaviour. Venues we visit have already started to close and we don't want to change the experience that we have promised to our guests.

We are determined to accommodate all our guests as best we can and we know you will assist us in this exercise. New dates have been added, and will continue to be added, to help accommodate these changes.

We are contacting every guest, valid voucher holder and anyone who has cancelled and held their tickets over for a period of 3 months to let them know how to transfer and we are extending all deadlines for those customers until June 2021.

We are a small team of humans and dogs and we have many guests to get in touch with and rebook, so please bear with us as we will be in touch with you as soon as we can. Do keep an eye on your spam folder! If you haven't heard from us by Tuesday 23rd March, get in touch using [email protected], otherwise, please wait until you hear from us.

We really are gutted that this is happening and can only hope it passes quickly and some form of normality resumes. What that normality will look like, no one knows.

We send all our guests, our friends in hospitality venues across Belfast and beyond, and the incredible producers of Northern Ireland our thoughts and just hope everyone can get through this as best as possible.

Thank you for understanding, your valued custom and please look after yourselves and your loved ones.

Take care

Caroline and Phil

ps we have updated our Frequently Asked Questions section to include further practical info! https://tasteandtour.co.uk/faqs

Phil in The Crown
Phil Ervine

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