Change to smoking regulations in pub gardens unlikely

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Outside focus: publicans have been assured that it is unlikely the Government will look to restrict smoking in pub gardens
Outside focus: publicans have been assured that it is unlikely the Government will look to restrict smoking in pub gardens

Related tags: Coronavirus

There is no sense that ministers will consider changing rules to split pub gardens into smoking and non-smoking areas, according to UKHospitality’s (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls.

The Morning Advertiser​ readers voiced their opposition to suggestions from a minority that the Government should consider changing rules on smoking in pub gardens while many readers also said further regulations would devastate the trade.

It comes as an MP called on the Government to consider adapting regulations so that there must be non-smoking and smoking areas in gardens. Currently, smoking is permitted in pub gardens.

UKH’s Kate Nicholls echoed the views of many operators and said the trade would use common sense to protect customers’ safety.

Common sense

She said: “Catering for smokers with social distancing in place will need a common-sense approach, as will a lot of aspects of operating once businesses reopen.

“Staff will need to be briefed and customers advised so that outdoor areas are managed properly. This may take the form of signage or verbal instructions to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.”

Conservative MP for The Wrekin in Shropshire Mark Pritchard wrote to the Department of Health asking for it to look at the risks of secondary smoke in pub gardens.

As pubs gear up for a potential reopening date of 4 July, many are looking to implement social distancing in an outside space as the first port of call because this limits the risk of coronavirus infection spreading.

The MP told local newspaper The Shropshire Star​: “This is about non-smoking customers being able to sit outside cafés and pubs without having to run the gauntlet of secondary smoke from smokers, especially the elderly and families with young children.

“Why should non-smokers be forced to breathe in other people’s smoke because Covid-19 forces more people to eat outside?”

Hard enough

The MA​ readers broadly agreed additional regulations would hinder the trade, which is already likely to struggle under the weight of social distance considerations and blunted consumer confidence when reopening.

One said on Facebook: “[Restrictions to smokers] would cause huge problems for the pub trade. It’s already hard enough to keep the smokers coming to the pub in the colder months, at least now we can adapt our gardens to make them feel comfortable and welcome.”

Another expressed doubt that it would be possible for pubs to police a division of smoking and non-smoking areas, especially ones with limited outside space.

However, some were more considerate of there being some or total restrictions to smoking outside, citing public health concerns.

Read the latest digital edition of The Morning Advertiser​ – for free – by clicking here​.

Related topics: Health & safety, UnitedWeStand

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