Coronavirus restrictions: what do the new rules mean for pubs?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

State rules: there has been a flurry of new regulations announced by the Government amid the Covid-19 pandemic
State rules: there has been a flurry of new regulations announced by the Government amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Related tags Legislation Government Prime minister Hygiene + cleaning Health and safety

With a raft of restrictions in place for pubs amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, The Morning Advertiser takes a look at exactly what these mean for the on-trade.
  • This is a developing story and will be updated when announcements are made

Face coverings

From Thursday 24 September, pub staff and customers must wear a face covering when indoors at pubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and any other premises providing hospitality except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

However, customers must put a face covering back on once they have finished eating or drinking.

Only customer-facing staff are required to wear a face covering, The MA​ understands.

This suggests back-of-house staff roles such as kitchen employees will not have to wear a form of face covering while working.

The Morning Advertiser ​also asked the Cabinet Office about the use of plastic visors and was directed to the Government's mention of the use of clear visors under its Working safely during coronavirus ​guidance​, stating they are permitted. However, we are awaiting a response to clarify on this.

People already exempt from existing face covering obligations will continue to be so. Exemptions include children under 11, those who cannot wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability, when speaking to someone or helping someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions when communicating.

The Government also laid out scenarios when face coverings may be removed and this includes for age identification purposes so if a member of staff asks a customer for proof of identity when buying alcohol.


Also from Thursday 24 September, pubs close each day between 10pm and 5am, meaning no customers are allowed to be in the pub at that time.

In a statement to the House of Commons earlier this week (Tuesday 22 September), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “All pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways.

“Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm. To help the police to enforce this rule, I am afraid that means alas closing, and not just calling for last orders. Simplicity is paramount.

“The same will apply to takeaways - though deliveries can continue thereafter.”

Table service

Again, from Thursday 24 September, food and drink in pubs must be ordered from and served at a table only.

Test and Trace

Pubs will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so customers can ‘check in’ at different venues using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally tomorrow (Thursday 24 September). Pubs that do not ask customers for contact information could be fined up to £4,000.

Social distancing

Social distancing at two-metres or one-metre with risk mitigation where two-metres is not viable. Risk mitigation includes increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning; keeping non-socially distanced activity time as short as possible; using screens or barriers to separate workers both from each other and customers; using back-to-back or side-to-side working – rather than face-to-face – whenever possible; and reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams.

For more information on the full guidance from the Government, please see here​​​. These guidelines will be legal requirements.

Rule of six

Pubs should ensure customers are not meeting socially in groups of more than six and should not take bookings for groups of more than six.

In a Downing Street press conference earlier this month (Wednesday 9 September) Johnson said: "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."

Music and dancing

Licensees in England must now “take all reasonable measures” to ensure “no music is played on the premises which exceeds 85db(A) when measured at the source of the music” as per new laws​.

Operators must also crack down on “singing on the premises by customers in groups of more than six” and “dancing on the premises by customers”.

The volume limit “does not apply to any performance of live music”, the legislation states.

However, exempt from the ban on dancing are couples dancing at their wedding or civil partnership ceremony and reception.

If pubs breach this law, they could be forced to pay fines of up to £1,000.

Related topics Legislation

Related news

Show more