Pub opening rules: guidance and social distancing measures to follow as bars and restaurants reopen in England

As hospitality venues across England reopen their doors once again, you should be aware of new social distancing guidelines and questions you should be prepared to answer before getting served
These are the new rules that customers will need to follow when hospitality businesses reopen (Photo: Shutterstock)These are the new rules that customers will need to follow when hospitality businesses reopen (Photo: Shutterstock)
These are the new rules that customers will need to follow when hospitality businesses reopen (Photo: Shutterstock)

Bars and restaurants across England were permitted to open their doors on July 4, after being closed due to lockdown procedures.

However, visiting a bar or restaurant now will be a bit different than it was pre-coronavirus.

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These are the new rules that customers will have to follow as pubs and restaurants reopen their doors.

What has the government said?

Speaking at the House of Commons on Tuesday 23 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Mr Speaker, I can tell the House that we will also re-open restaurants and pubs.”

The announcement that pubs and restaurants can reopen came after it was revealed how hard the hospitality industry has been hit by the pandemic.

Business Secretary RT Hon Alok Sharma MP said: “Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are the lifeblood of high streets and town centres across the country and we are doing all we can to ensure they can bounce back as quickly and safely as possible.”

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Johnson also mentioned in his speech that the social distancing rule of two metres has been relaxed. He explained that where people could keep two metres apart, they should, but where it is not possible, the advice has changed to “one metre plus”.

He said: “I know this [two metre] rule effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy, even without other restrictions.

“For example, it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry from operating.”

What are the new rules?

When visiting a food and drink establishment after they’ve reopened at the beginning of July, you might notice that there are some changes made to the way that they operate.

This is everything you need to know.

One in, one out

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The government says that venues should consider adopting a “limited entry” approach to allowing customers into the establishment, such as a “one in, one out” method.

Businesses are also advised to use social distancing markers, especially where queues tend to form.

Outdoor table service

In his speech at the House of Commons, Johnson said: “All hospitality indoors will be limited to table service, and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.”

The government has also introduced new legislation which allows more pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve customers outdoors, such as using car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas.

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The official guidance from the government also states: “Indoor table service must be used where possible.

“Outdoor table service should also be encouraged though customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced appropriately.”

The guidelines state that, where possible, venues should encourage customers to order and pay using contactless.

Disposable cutlery

Items like cutlery and condiments will also only be provided when food is ordered by customers.

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The guidance states that venues should provide disposable condiments or, where that isn’t possible, “cleaning non-disposable condiment containers after each use”.

No loud music

Venues are also told that they should ensure that customers aren’t forced to raise their voices to talk, with the guidelines explaining: “This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult.”

Similarly, venues are not allowed to showcase “live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience”.

Increased hygiene

Businesses are also told in the guidance that hand sanitiser should be made available to customers, and to ensure that “suitable handwashing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand dryers) are available”.

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There should also be clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, “with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage”.

Asking for personal details

New guidelines that have been published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) ask venues such as pubs, restaurants, cinemas and more to support the NHS Test and Trace service by keeping a record of their staff, customers and other visitors.

For customers and visitors, this will mean that you will have to provide your name, a contact phone number and the date of your visit, arrival time and departure time (where possible). Groups can nominate a “lead member” to provide these details.

It should also be noted which member of staff interacts with a specific customer, or group of customers.

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Providing these details are entirely voluntary, but customers and visitors are encouraged to comply in order to support the NHS Test and Trace.

These details will allow NHS Test and Trace to be able to identify and help people who may have been exposed to the virus.