No more Covid legal requirements for pubs in England

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Freedom day: pubs are no longer subject to Covid laws as of today (Monday 19 July) but operators have said they will retain safety measures (image: Getty/Justin Lambert)
Freedom day: pubs are no longer subject to Covid laws as of today (Monday 19 July) but operators have said they will retain safety measures (image: Getty/Justin Lambert)

Related tags England coronavirus Legislation Health and safety Oakman Group Shepherd neame

Pubs and bars are no longer subject to Covid laws including the rule of six, table service and social distancing.

Covid laws have been replaced with guidance​ for individuals and businesses today (Monday 19 July) in a major slashing of restrictions in England.

There are no legal limits on social contact meaning operators do not have to cap numbers or ensure there is a distance between tables.

Nightclubs also enjoyed their first night open in 16 months with some venues reopening just after midnight this morning.

Operators are no longer required to ensure customers leave their contact details with a venue or check in via the NHS app in case contact tracing is needed.

Updated guidance for hospitality venues reiterates many of the previous requirements but they are now advised rather than mandatory.​ 

Many pub companies have said they will retain some key Covid measures including table service and screens between tables.

Individual's choice

Shepherd Neame chief executive, Jonathan Neame, said table service would remain available in most sites while bar service would return in “some sites”.

The pub company will recommend staff and customers wear masks inside venues but this will be “left to the individual’s choice”.

The Oakman Group said table service would continue across its 35 sites​ with managing director Alex Ford describing it as “a quicker and more relaxed method of being served.”

Ford added: “We ask that our customers respect others, including our team, and give everyone some space. Other than that – very little has changed.”

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was “the right time to cautiously proceed” with removing restrictions despite the country recording around 50,000 daily Covid cases.

He told BBC Breakfast​ it was right for pandemic laws to be replaced with guidance and for people to make their own choices.

Close to normality

"It's right to be careful but it's also right to get our country back together, opening up and as close to normality as possible.

"Because we're wanting to get our lives back, get back to normality and get people to take personal responsibility, yes, but also corporate responsibility, and people should respect that."

Some 12,000 more venues will be able to reopen after today, according to the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.

Research found just under 89% of all known hospitality venues in the UK were open by the end of last month (June), with 11,928 remaining shut.

The report found almost a third (31.2%) of large and late-night venues and nearly a quarter (22.9%) of sports and social clubs were still closed at the end of June.

Many pubs have struggled to stay open when staff members have been instructed to self-isolate after coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid.

Pub bosses have called on the Government to intervene to prevent venue closures this summer.

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