First Dates returns to our screens next week and this time around the action takes place in a new restaurant in Manchester.
It also takes place in the midst of a global pandemic – yet, despite this, singletons on the Channel 4 show were able to hold hands and even kiss.
That’s because the restaurant took careful measures to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
First Dates moves to Manchester restaurant
This will be the 16th series of First Dates since the show was first aired in 2013 – and the first not to be held at the Paternoster Chop House in London.
Instead, the show’s long-standing maître d’ Fred Sirieix will be seen welcoming single participants to the Refinery restaurant in Spinningfields, Manchester.
These strict measures meant daters featured in the show were safe to enjoy a First Dates experience as close to normal as possible.
And, although the UK is still in the grip of the coronavirus crisis, producers did not put the kibosh on the couples getting intimate with each other.
A Channel 4 spokesman told Metro.co.uk: “At the time of filming, production followed Government protocol and put robust procedures in place to ensure the safety of all daters and staff.
“Measures included rigorous testing, self-isolation and a bubble system, whilst filming took place in a restaurant closed to the public.
“These strict measures meant daters featured in the show were safe to enjoy a First Dates experience as close to normal as possible, including, at their own discretion, whether they held hands or kissed.”
Goodbye to a popular First Dates face
A member of the restaurant team also told Metro.co.uk that “normal” members of the public could not enter the premises during filming.
One person who will not be appearing in First Dates this time around is Laura Trott.
Earlier this week, the popular waitress-cum-NHS paramedic announced on her Instagram page that she’ll be missing out this year, due to the location change.
She wrote: “As you can see, I do not appear in this series of First Dates.
“They have moved up north to a new restaurant and wanted to freshen up the team for this series, with some new local faces among the old faces, so I will not be featuring in this new series of First Dates unfortunately.”
She added: “To be honest, I don’t actually know how I would have fit filming in this year with working during the pandemic.
“I’ve needed every day off to chill out so it’s actually been a welcomed break. I’ve missed the whole team though, that’s for sure.”
The new series of First Dates starts on Tuesday at 10pm on Channel 4.
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