'Pubs should make sure customers are not in groups bigger than 6'

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Government legislation: the new law comes into effect next week (Monday 14 September)
Government legislation: the new law comes into effect next week (Monday 14 September)

Related tags: Legislation, Government

Pubs should ensure guests are not in individual groups larger than six and groups are not allowed to mix socially or form bigger groups, Prime Minster Boris Johnson has confirmed.

In a Downing Street press conference today (Wednesday 9 September), Johnson outlined further details on the 'rule of six', which was originally announced late last night (Tuesday 8 September).

Johnson said: "In England from Monday (14 September) we are introducing the rule of six. You must not meet socially in groups of more than six and if you do, you will be breaking the law.

"This will apply in any setting indoors out outdoors at home or in the pub. The ban will be set out in law and it will be enforce by the police. Anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested."

He added: "This single measure replaces both the existing ban on gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors now you only need to remember the rule of six.

"There will be some limited exemptions. For example if a single household or support bubble is larger than six then obviously, they can still gather.

"Covid-secure venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants, hospitality venues, can still hold more than six in total within those venues however, there must not be individual groups larger than 6 and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups."

Recognised by sector

Johnson said: "Education and work settings are unaffected. Covid-secure weddings and funerals can still go ahead up to a limit of 30 people and organised sport will still be able to proceed."

This comes after the Government’s new coronavirus restrictions that slashes social gatherings to a maximum of six people was labelled “very problematic” for the sector​. 

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said it was understandable the Government were concerned about the recent rise in Covid-19 cases.

She added: “This concern is recognised by our sector and we will play an active role in helping Government manage this rise in infections by continuing to adhere to the current guidelines as well as embracing the new ones. 

“It is important to understand that the changes to social gatherings announced today will have an immediate cooling effect on public confidence to go out and visit our pubs. And will have a direct impact on trade that will be felt hard across an industry that is already struggling to get back on its feet. At such a delicate point in our recovery after a steady start this summer, as we head into Autumn and Winter where we expect trade to already slow down, this is very concerning.

“With the announcements made, pubs and breweries will need much more support from the Government if they are to survive. An extension on business rates relief, continuation of the VAT cut to food and soft drinks, a sector specific furlough extension and a significant beer duty cut are needed now. These measures, along with the welcomed compensation for businesses closed as a result of local lockdowns announced earlier today by The Treasury, will help pubs survive, protect jobs and ensure they can continue to serve our communities.

“Without this support from Government, and a clear message that pubs remain open for business and that the public should support them, our sector is in for a very rough end to an already devastating year.

“It fully remains the case that, by following the existing guidelines, pubs remain an entirely safe place for people to meet up at. To reopen every pub had to complete a risk assessment and put measures in place to ensure the safety of customers. With these measures in place, and pubs’ active participation in test and trace, pub goers can rest assured they are safe.”

Equally welcome

The Prime Minister's statement represented a further shift towards hospitality businesses to act to protect public health, UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said.

She added: "This is a challenge that the sector has already grasped and will redouble efforts to achieve, in the interest of customers and staff, and to minimise the risk of further lockdowns.

“This will, of course, be more easily achieved with the cooperation of customers, so the measures to make clear the responsibility of individuals was equally welcome. Any fines charged against hospitality venues for breaching Covid-secure requirements must be proportionate and pertain to factors wholly under the control of the venue.

“Johnson said a later announcement will be made regarding a review of other types of gatherings, such as business conferences, and we strongly urge that any such announcement also includes the roadmap for a return to trade for nightclubs, for which we have long been asking.”

While tackling the spread of coronavirus is imperative, hospitality is still in a fragile state, according to Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA chief executive James Calder.

He said: "Even with pubs, bars and restaurants having been allowed to reopen, like-for-like July sales for small breweries have been down 50% and every week over the summer we have seen at least two small breweries closing for good. 

"No one wants these small steps to be the last and if further restrictions are introduced, it is imperative the Government provides the full support these small independent businesses need.

"For small breweries they need access to the full package of support already given to pubs including the business rate holiday and an extension of furlough. The Government should also scrap its plans to raise the amount of beer duty small breweries will have to pay under its proposed changes to Small Brewers Relief which is threatening businesses and creating additional uncertainty at a very challenging time.”


Related topics: Legislation

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