Review guide dog policy, guidance urges

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

BBPA guidance: refusing entry to a person with an assistance dog could breach equality legislation
BBPA guidance: refusing entry to a person with an assistance dog could breach equality legislation

Related tags: Dog

Publicans must ensure they are following the law around guide dogs, new guidance for the sector has prompted.

The Guide Dogs charity found that 19% of assistance dog owners had been refused access to pubs in the 12 months prior to April 2019.

That statistic comes as the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has released a new pack of advice for publicans to make their sites more accessible to customers.

The guidance outlines that to refuse entry to a pubgoer with a guide dog may be counted as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. 

Refusing assistance dogs meansa person with disabilities cannot access services in the same way a non-disabled person would be able to. 

Blanket bans unreasonable

Pub operators are also advised that these dogs are not pets and customers may rely on them for help with daily practical tasks.

Assistance dogs are used by a variety of people, including those with hearing loss, epilepsy, diabetes, physical mobility problems, as well as the blind.

The guidance states: “It will almost always not be reasonable for a pub, hotel, restaurant or shop to apply a ‘no dogs’ policy for assistance dog owners and doing so could amount to unlawful discrimination.”

Joel Young, campaigns officer at Guide Dogs, said: “It is great to see the BBPA taking proactive steps to raise awareness of the access rights assistance dog owners have under the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). 

“We urge all publicans to review their policy relating to access for people with assistance dogs and to consider the different types of assistance dogs that may enter their establishment.”

Purple Tuesday

The guidance was published today on Purple Tuesday (12 November 2019), a day which urges businesses to look at how to improve customer accessibility. 

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said the guide would help licensees understand how to ensure their site was as welcoming as possible.

She explained: “Pubs are rightly known for being the heart of their communities, bringing people together under one roof. The hospitality of the pub extends to people with disabilities too.

"As a sector, we must continue to be as inclusive as we can be and highlight the accessibility of our facilities and their improvements.

“Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense.”

JD Wetherspoon banned all dogs - with the exception of assistance and guide dogs - across its estate last year, citing health and safety concerns.​ 

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