What are rules for pubs to reopen for outside trading?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Government guidance: there are a plethora of rules pubs need to adhere to when reopening outdoors (image: Getty/thanasus)
Government guidance: there are a plethora of rules pubs need to adhere to when reopening outdoors (image: Getty/thanasus)

Related tags Legislation Table service Government Health and safety

With updated guidance revealed following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement earlier this week (Monday 5 April), we have put together the rules pubs need to know ahead of outdoor trade being permitted on Monday (12 April).

• Takeaway alcohol

The guidance also states from step two (no earlier than Monday 12 April), hospitality venues will be permitted to provide takeaway alcohol.

• Live music outdoors

Pubs are allowed to host live music outside​ but it has to be complementary to customers eating or drinking and the performance cannot be the main reason for their visit.

The Government guidance stated in step two of its roadmap plan the trade is allowed to provide live music for seated guests.

But, pubs cannot charge admission fees or admit an audience as this would constitute a live event – something which is not permitted until Monday 17 May at the earliest, as part of the Government’s roadmap, when indoor service will also be allowed (subject to the four tests).

• Indoor payments

The rules around payments for when beer gardens and outdoor areas can reopen have been confusing for operators and The Morning Advertiser ​understands the guidance is pubgoers can pay inside when outdoor service is permitted but only as a last resort​ such as where portable card payment or cash is not an option.

Many operators reported local councils had told them indoor payment was prohibited with no exemptions however, the Local Government Association moved to confirm payments inside should be permitted​ “where there are genuine reasons why payments cannot be taken at tables outdoors”.

• Test & Trace

One big change for outdoor reopening is taking contact details of customers to help NHS Test and Trace. Whereas last year, operators were required to take information of one person in a group, it is now a legal requirement that details from all pubgoers must be recorded.

The guidance states operators must display the official NHS QR code poster (which can be created here​​) alongside asking every customer of visitor aged over 16 to check in to the venue or provide their contact details, which can be done using the NHS Covid-19 app.

It also says pubs must have a system in place to ensure information can be collected from visitors who do not have a smartphone or don’t want to use the NHS app.

Information collected must include the customer’s name, contact telephone number or email address or postal address, date of visit, time of visit and where possible, departure time, as well as the name of the assigned staff member if a customer will interact with only one member of staff.

The guidance does note while recording arrival and departure times will help reduce the number of people to be contact by NHS Test and Trace if required, recording departure times isn’t always practicable and this is not requirement by law.

The information collected must not be used for any other purpose other than for NHS Test and Trace unless operators would already collect it for another business purpose.

• Outdoor structures

When it comes to external structures, to be considered ‘outdoors’, shelters, marquees and other types of coverings like this can have a roof but need to have at least half (50%) of the area of the walls open at all times while in use.

• Table service

Table service will be in operation however, the guidance says if a hospitality venue does not serve alcohol, customers will be allowed to order and collect food and drink from a counter, but must consume it while seated.

• Face coverings

The guidance stated staff and customers of venues providing food and drink are required to wear a face covering indoors suggesting customers will not need to wear one when seated outside.

However, customers are expected to wear a face covering before entering indoor settings, which includes using the toilet or making a payment – if circumstances require payment to be made indoors – and they must keep it on until they leave the indoor setting unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.

By law, all businesses must remind customers and staff to wear a face covering where required (such as on posters or providing verbal reminders).

• Toilets

Customers will be permitted to use toilets, baby changing rooms or breast-feeding rooms inside but must wear a face covering when going indoors.

• Rule of six/two households

For customers sitting in outdoor areas at hospitality settings, the rule of six or two household rule must be adhered to.

According to the Government website, members of the public can meet up outdoors with friends and family they do not live with in outside settings including outdoor hospitality venues.

This is in either a group of up to six from any number of households (children of all ages count towards the limit of six), or in a group of any size  from up to two households (each household can include an existing support bubble, if applicable).

The Morning Advertiser ​understands pubs can serve up to six people per table, regardless of the number of households and there will be flexibility of the number of people per table if it is limited to one to two households only. Tables housing separate groups should be socially distanced.

• Social distancing

Pub staff should maintain social distancing guidelines (two metres or one-metre plus with risk mitigation where two metres is not possible) wherever possible.

For customers, social distancing must also still be in place. Outdoor seating and tables should be reconfigured to maintain two metres or one-metre plus with risk mitigation where two-metres is not possible.

• Grants

Furthermore, pubs that open for outdoor trading from next week will still be eligible for the Restart Grants as The Morning Advertiser ​​understands the scheme is based on sector, rather than open or closed status.

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