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Every customer must sign in when visiting a pub, restaurant or hospitality venue.

How do you feel about the new rules to help pubs, cafes and restaurants reopen outdoors safely in England on 12 April?

Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways.

Step 1 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun. Some of the rules changed on 29 March, but many restrictions remain in place.

This guidance includes changes to restrictions that come into force in Step 2 on 12 April. Until we move to Step 2, current restrictions on restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services continue to apply.

Find out what you can and cannot do.

Supporting NHS Test and Trace

The opening up of the economy is reliant on NHS Test and Trace being used to minimise transmission of the virus.

You must:

  1. Display the official NHS QR code poster. Official NHS QR posters can be generated online.
  2. Ask every customer or visitor aged 16 and over to check in to your venue or provide their contact details. This can be done quickly and easily using the NHS COVID-19 app to scan in the NHS QR code poster.
  3. Have a system in place to ensure that you can collect information from your customers and visitors who do not have a smartphone or do not want to use the NHS COVID-19 app. You must keep this data for 21 days and provide it to NHS Test and Trace, if it is requested. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.
  4. Take reasonable steps to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide contact details.

Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording this information – including restaurants and pubs. These existing systems may be an effective means of collecting contact details.

Any business that is found not to be compliant with these requirements will be subject to financial penalties. It is vital that you comply with these requirements to help keep people safe, and to keep businesses open.​ Find out more about the NHS Test and Trace requirements.​

Businesses operating a service where food and drink is not for consumption on the premises are not required to comply with these requirements.

Keeping customers and visitors safe

Businesses should not intentionally facilitate gatherings between a greater number of people than is permitted; and should take steps to ensure customer compliance with the rules on social contact. Under these rules, outdoor gatherings are limited to 6 people or 2 households (a support bubble counts as a single household).

Some venues may wish to erect outdoor shelters. To be considered ‘outdoors’, shelters, marquees and other structures can have a roof but need to have at least 50% of the area of their walls open at all times whilst in use.

Steps could include:

  1. Informing customers of guidance through signage or notices at the point of booking or on arrival.
  2. Ensuring staff are familiar with the guidance, and if any local restrictions are in place.
  3. Asking customers for verbal confirmation of the number of people in their party at the point of arrival.

Individual businesses or venues should consider the cumulative impact of many venues re-opening in a small area. This means working with local authorities, neighbouring businesses and travel operators to assess this risk and applying additional mitigations.

Steps could include:

  1. Further lowering capacity – even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people at the venue, it may not be safe for them all to travel or enter that venue.
  2. Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.
  3. Arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues.
  4. Advising patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue.

Local authorities should avoid issuing licenses for events that could lead to larger gatherings forming and provide advice to businesses on how to manage events of this type. If appropriate, the government has powers to close venues hosting large gatherings or prohibit certain events (or types of event) from taking place.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Calculating the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) at the venue. Taking into account total outdoor space, specific venue characteristics such as furniture as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.
  2. Reconfiguring outdoor seating and tables to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between groups of customers. For example, increasing the distance between tables.
  3. Managing the entry of customers, and the number of customers at a venue, so that all customers are seated with appropriate distancing. This is to ensure that the venue, including areas of congestion does not become overcrowded. Managing entry numbers can be done, for example, through reservation systems, social distancing markings, having customers queue at a safe distance for toilets or bringing payment machines to customers, where possible.
  4. Working with your local authority or landlord to take into account the impact of your processes, including queues, on public spaces such as high streets and public car parks.
  5. Working with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to provide additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks, where possible, to help customers avoid using public transport.
  6. Reducing the need for customers to queue, but where this is unavoidable, using outside spaces for queueing where available and safe. For example, using some car parks and existing outdoor services areas, excluding disabled car parking bays.
  7. Managing outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals, other businesses or additional security risks, for example by introducing queuing systems, having staff direct customers and protecting queues from traffic by routing them behind permanent physical structures such as street furniture, bike racks, bollards or putting up barriers.
  8. Providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email.
  9. Ensuring customers are compliant with rules on social contact.
  10. Encouraging customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue.
  11. Ensuring any changes to entrances, exits and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled customers. For example, maintaining pedestrian and parking access for disabled customers.
  12. Reminding customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
  13. Ensuring outdoor play areas are operated safely by following guidance for managing playgrounds.
  14. Looking at how people move through the venue and how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers, for example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible.
  15. Planning for maintaining social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) in the event of adverse weather conditions, being clear that customers cannot seek shelter indoors.
  16. Working with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to consider how to spread the number of people arriving throughout the day for example by staggering opening hours; this will help reduce demand on public transport at key times and avoid overcrowding.
  17. Determining if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people, for example, carrying out services at night.

Managing service of food and drink at a venue

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Maintaining social distancing (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) from customers when taking orders from customers.
  2. Using social distance markings to remind customers to maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) where necessary.
  3. Providing only disposable condiments or cleaning non- disposable condiment containers after each use.
  4. Reducing the number of surfaces touched by both staff and customers. For example, asking customers not lean on counters when collecting takeaways.
  5. Encouraging contactless payments where possible and adjusting location of card readers to social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).
  6. Minimising contact between front of house workers and customers at points of service where appropriate. For example, using screens or tables at tills and counters to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).
  7. Minimising customer self-service of food, cutlery and condiments to reduce risk of transmission. For example, providing cutlery and condiments only when food is served.

Takeaway or delivery

Objective: To manage interactions at the venue resulting from selling food and drinks for takeaway, click and collect or delivery.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. See government guidance on food safety for food delivery.
  2. Encouraging customers to order online, on apps or over the telephone to reduce queues and stagger pick-up times.
  3. Minimising contact between kitchen workers and front of house workers, delivery drivers or riders, for example, by having zones from which delivery drivers can collect packaged food items.
  4. Limiting access to venues for people waiting for or collecting takeaways. Setting out clear demarcation for social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) for delivery drivers, riders or customers queuing. Asking customers to wait outside or in their cars.
  5. Working with your local authority, landlord and neighbours to ensure designated waiting areas do not obstruct public spaces.

Service at the venue

Objective: To manage interactions at the venue resulting from service of food and drink in outdoor services areas.

At venues serving alcohol, customers are required to order, be served and eat/drink while seated (even if no alcohol is ordered). You should take payment at the table or at another outdoor location. 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. If you need to take payment indoors the customer should wear a face covering unless exempt, you should ensure only one customer is indoors at any time for the purpose of making payment, and you should operate a tab system to ensure that customers do not need to make multiple indoor payments during their time at the venue.

At venues that do not serve alcohol, customers are able to order and collect food and drink from a counter but must consume food and drink while seated at a table.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Encouraging use of contactless ordering from tables where available. For example, through an ordering app.
  2. Adjusting service approaches to minimise staff contact with customers. Consider measures such as assigning a single staff member per table.
  3. Adjusting processes to prevent customers from congregating at points of service. For example, having only staff collect and return empty glasses to the bar.
  4. Minimising contact between kitchen workers and front of house workers. For example, by having zones from which front of house staff can collect food.
  5. Not allowing customers to consume food or drink on the premises unless they are seated outdoors.


Objective: To use ventilation to mitigate the aerosol transmission risk of COVID-19 in enclosed spaces.

Ventilation should be used as a control measure to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in enclosed spaces.

Ventilation will not reduce the risk of droplet or surface transmission, so other control measures such as cleaning and social distancing are also required.

There are different ways of providing ventilation, including mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, natural ventilation which relies on passive flow through openings (doors, windows, vents) or a combination of the two.

The risk of transmission is greater in spaces that are poorly ventilated. HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning explains how to identify those spaces and steps to take to improve ventilation.

Read advice on air conditioning and ventilation from HSE.

Customer toilets

Objective: To ensure that toilets are kept open and to ensure/promote good hygiene, social distancing, and cleanliness in toilet facilities. Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside premises should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency and to avoid touching your face, and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
  2. Consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with 1 in, 1 out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
  3. To enable good hand hygiene consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe, practical and accessible, and ensure suitable handwashing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand dryers) are available. Consider the needs of people with disabilities.
  4. Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage. Use normal cleaning products, paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces, and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
  5. Keeping the facilities well ventilated, for example by ensuring extractor fans work effectively and opening windows and vents where possible.
  6. Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets and larger toilet blocks.
  7. Putting up a visible cleaning schedule can keep it up to date and visible.
  8. Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

Source: GOV.UK Working safely during coronavirus




Author pubexperts

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