Pubs can ask customers to pay inside as a last resort, The Morning Advertiser (MA) reported yesterday.
Guidance for pubs and restaurants on the Government website - under section 2.3.2, service at the venue - states: “If it’s not possible to take payment outdoors, for example due to a technical issue, you can take payment indoors as a last resort.”
Customers should wear a face covering when paying indoors and only one customer should be indoors “at any time for the purpose of making payment.”
What’s more, the Government advised operators use a tab system “to ensure that customers do not need to make multiple indoor payments during their time at the venue.”
Licensees described feeling frustrated at conflicting messages on social media yesterday (Wednesday 7 April).
One operator said they had already received instruction from their local licensing team that indoor payment was banned with no information about potential exceptions.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association, told The MA it agreed with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that indoor payments should be allowed “where there are genuine reasons why payments cannot be taken at tables outdoors.”
They added: “The best way to achieve a consistent approach across both premises and licensing authorities is for the Government to publish timely guidance to ensure everyone is working to a shared understanding.”
What’s more, publicans were left confused by reports in the press that they would not be allowed to invite customers inside.
UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls pointed to the guidance.
This is not true - guidance has been changed to allow indoor payment— Kate Nicholls (@UKHospKate) April 7, 2021
The Government guidance states payment should be taken “at the table or at another outdoor location” in ideal circumstances.
Outdoor hospitality will reopen from Monday 12 April in the next step of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions.
Chief executive of Admiral Taverns Chris Jowsey told The MA that it would be unfair to expect pubs and bars to adhere to tougher rules on payment than other sectors.
“It’s important we are allowed to take payment indoors as every shop and café will be able to do it indoors,” he said.
Pubs in rural areas with poor internet connection would also be adversely affected, he said.
A BEIS spokesperson said: “There is no ban on taking payment indoors when pubs and other hospitality venues reopen from 12 April. Customers are required to order, be served and eat or drink while seated outside, and wherever possible payment should be taken at the table or at another outdoor location.
“If payment is not possible outdoors, payment can be taken indoors as a last resort. This is to ensure we limit the use of indoor space and protect people by stopping the spread of the disease.”