Telford firm creates safe way to get social down your local

By Charlotte Bentley | Shifnal | Dining out | Published:

A Telford-based design company has come up with a creative way to get people back into pubs safely.

Mark Coates, managing director of Group Structures, a design company in Telford, came up with ‘Covid-safe’ tables

Mark Coates, managing director of Group Structures and ACS Telford, has been getting his creative juices flowing during lockdown to come up with a safe way for people to interact once pubs are open next month.

Adhering to social distancing rules is a concern of many the industry who are eager to get business going again, but while keeping their customers and staff safe at the same time.

Mark, who frequents Jasper's pub in Shifnal, wanted to help out his friends Deb and Aled who run the pub, and came up with 'Covid-safe' tables which can seat up to 16 people in groups separated by plastic screens.

He said the tables are designed for groups to be able to sit together, so friends can reunite after weeks of separation.

Mark Coats, managing director of Group Structures, a design company in Telford

"Pubs need these groups to come back," Mark said. "Ones and twos won’t help them out of their financial problems.

"Couples who don’t need to isolate can sit together in one bay. Friends who do need to isolate sit in individual bays. They can all talk to each other across the table and through the screens. They can revive the social lives that have been on ice for so long.


"Public confidence is going to be a massive issue. Even if the government says it’s safe to go to a pub with two metres distancing, will people feel safe? Probably not.

The tables will allow groups to sit together safely. In Picture L>R: Simon, Comba, Mark Coats (Group Structures) and Adrian Darall

"The Covid-safe tables represent a more tangible level of protection than the government’s ‘suck it and see’ approach."

Mark said he wanted to think of something to help out his friends when they re-open and hopes it will also help the community come together again.


Group Structures has been working with Jaspers in Shifnal to create a new table concept. In Picture L>R: Simon Comba, Mark Coats (Group Structures) and Adrian Darall

"We are a really community-led business and as a company we do a lot for the community," he said.

"Most people who work for me are from this area. It's kind of looking at the bigger picture really.

"I don't go to the pub to sit by myself, it is a social experience. So if this allows people to get back into pubs safely, then that's great."

Charlotte Bentley

By Charlotte Bentley
Community Reporter - @CharlotteB_Star

Community Reporter at the Shropshire Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Shropshire and Mid Wales. Contact me at


Top stories


More from Shropshire Star

UK & International News