Do I have to close my pub if a customer tests positive for coronavirus?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Accurate information: 'businesses really needs to know if the case was definitely positive' safety expert Mark Flanagan advises
Accurate information: 'businesses really needs to know if the case was definitely positive' safety expert Mark Flanagan advises

Related tags Coronavirus

In light of pubs closing after people linked to the venues tested positive for coronavirus, The Morning Advertiser spoke with safety experts to find out what operators should be aware of if this happens to them.
  • Updated Wednesday 7 July 2021

In the Government guidance​, it outlines how businesses can ensure venue alerts are sent, as part of Test and Trace.

It advises operators should contact their local health protection team or environmental health department at the local council if they need further support to manage an outbreak in their pub.

It also states "your venue does not need to close. You will be given guidance and advice at the point at which you are contacted".

Back in July 2020, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed to The Morning Advertiser (MA) ​that where appropriate, the publican would be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service, which would offer them the relevant advice based on their intelligence of each individual situation.

At the time, this followed three pubs closing their doors after people linked to the venues tested positive for the virus​.

The Fox & Hounds in Batley, West Yorkshire, said it had been contacted by a customer who had tested positive and would be closed “until further notice”.

Hampshire pub the Village Home in Alverstoke said some of the staff were isolating after a case of coronavirus had been in the pub.

It would remain shut until Saturday (11 July) but advised that any customers who were in the venue over the opening weekend would not need to isolate unless they were contacted by NHS Test and Trace or showed symptoms.

The Lighthouse Kitchen & Carvery in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, said all staff would be tested and it would reopen when “safe to do so”.

The MA​ asked Shield Safety Group CEO and Safe to Trade Scheme chair Mark Flanagan what operators should do if they are contacted by a customer who says they have tested positive for Covid-19.

Advice given

Flanagan said: “This is a tricky one, in the sense that businesses really needs to know if the case was definitely positive.

“Therefore, if a customer reports they have tested positive [they need to] confirm they are working with the Test and Trace, or equivalent in Wales and Scotland.

“If this is the case, then the business will be contacted by Test and Trace and advice given. If a guest claims a positive result and have not co-operated with the Test and Trace then the advice to businesses is to contact the local health protection team for advice. “

“Remember, for the purposes of Test and Trace, a contact in a hospitality setting is considered as someone within one metre of them with whom they have had a face-to-face-conversation, had skin-to-skin physical contact, have coughed on, or been in other forms of contact within one metre or one minute or longer; or someone within two metres of them for more than 15 minutes.”

While pubs do not have to shut their doors, licensees should be aware they could be asked for details about staff and customers who could have been near someone with the virus.

Flanagan added: “No, they do not have to close. Be prepared to provide information about team and guests who may have come into contact with the infected person, this is why accurate information on rotas and visitors is key.

“Team working in zones is important, as it is possible to narrow down those who were more likely to come into significant contact with the infected person  and may need to self-isolate. 

“It is possible that team may have to self-isolate. It is for this reason that ‘bubbles of teams’ are recommended, as only part of the workforce are impacted and business can continue to trade.”

He also outlined the rules around what processes should be in place if a customer or staff member tests positive for the virus.

Procedures in place

“If staff member they must self-isolate for seven days from when the symptoms started. If they feel well enough after seven days and have not had a high temperature for 48 hours,  they can return to work,” Flanagan said.

“Effective cleaning, ensuring the staff have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). As a minimum, disposable gloves and an apron.

“Further PPE to be provided if the person has been there for a longer period of time, e.g. a hotel room or if there are signs of soiling.

“Ensure chemicals are used following manufacturers instructions and are known to be effective against the coronavirus.

“Waste from the area must be double bagged and held securely for at least 72 hours before being placed for disposal. Refer to the latest guidance on cleaning.

“If more than one case associated with the workplace then you should contact the local health protection team and report the suspected outbreak. If an outbreak is declared, then the business will be expected to assist by providing information staff and visitors. It is for this reason that the business should maintain accurate team rotas and details of guest visiting the premises.

The safety expert highlighted how best publicans can assist authorities with identifying a case, should an outbreak occur.

Flanagan said: “In the instance of a confirmed outbreak, the business should identify a single point of contact for the health protection team and ensure they are available to support with any investigation and co-ordinate the business response. 

“If NHS Test and Trace require team to self-isolate, the business should help the employee do this without delay.”

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