Covid reopening

The Government has published its plan for reopening businesses and premises. For full details of the government's plan please visit: GOV.UK - re-opening businesses and venues

Best Bar None (BBN) has created an online checklist to help businesses reopen safely. 

Hospitality venues will open no earlier than 12 April. 

Government Guidance dated 9 April

Can I open from the 12th April?

Yes, the Government has confirmed that step two of the roadmap will start on Monday 12 April. This means non-essential businesses will be able to open including pubs and restaurants for outdoors only.

Hospitality venues will open no earlier than 12 April. 

Does it have to be table service only?

Yes, your customers must order, eat and drink while seated outdoors. They cannot go to a bar or servery area. 

What are the rules for social distancing?

The rule of 6 or two households will apply.  This means that groups of 6 from different households, or any number of persons from up to 2 households, can sit together.

The 2 meter distance rule will still apply between the groups of up to 6 or 2 households.

You will need to review your table spacing and consider a one-way system to ensure social distancing of 2 meters can be achieved between the groups whilst seated (or 1 meter plus with COVID mitigation, for example, screening) and through the movement of people throughout the site.

Do staff have to wear face coverings?

Staff must wear face coverings in indoor areas that are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come into close contact with a member of the public unless they have an exemption. We recommend for customer and staff safety, that staff should be wearing face coverings both inside and outside.

Do customers have to wear face coverings?

This is not yet clear, but we assume that customers in outside areas will not have to wear face coverings. However, they must be wearing a face covering when accessing any inside areas such as toilets.

Can the sale of alcohol be with a meal only?

No, there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol. 

Will there be a curfew?

No, there will be no national curfew but any outdoor restrictions on your premises licence will still apply.

Can customers use inside toilets?

Yes, customers will be able to use inside toilets and facilities, but you will need to risk assess and have procedures in place to make sure these areas are COVID safe.  Customers will need to be wearing a face-covering when using these inside areas.

Can customers go through inside areas to access an outside area?

Yes, customers will be able to pass through an inside area to access a garden or outside area. But you will need to manage this to make sure that there are no bottlenecks and that people are not queuing or gathering inside waiting to get to the outside area. You should consider having a one-way system, or customers to queue outside until the inside area is clear, or you might consider only operating pre-bookings for tables. 

Will I still have to have a COVID risk assessment?

Yes, you will need to demonstrate robust controls for managing the risk of transmission and to ensure social distancing rules are followed.

Do I need to comply with Track and Trace?

Yes, you will need to display an official NHS QR code poster and collect contact details for customers not able to use the code, for NHS Test and Trace.  

Can I have a marquee, gazebo, or similar structure?

The definition of an indoor area is as set out in the Smoking Ban regulations, namely:

(4) a place is indoors if it would be considered, enclosed, or substantially enclosed, for purposes of section 2 of the Health Act 2006(37), under the smoke-free (premises and enforcement) Regulations 2006(38).

Therefore, a marquee or any similar structure must not be wholly enclosed, or substantially enclosed to be 'outdoors' In practice, this means it must not have sides (including doors, windows or other fittings that can be opened or shut) that enclose more than 50% of the shelter if you want to use it as an outdoor space. Basically, if a marquee is a square but two of the side are open to the air - then it can be used as an outdoor space.  

There has been an increase of the relevant permitted development rights for marquees, to allow an increase in the number of days allowed for temporary events from 28 days to 56 days.

Schedule 2, Part 4 of the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 if you wish to refer to the legislation on this.

Can I put tables and chairs on the pavement?

If you do not normally have tables and chairs outside on the pavement, you can apply for a pavement licence. Find out more on our pavement licence information page.

Do I need to carry out a risk assessment?

Yes, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 all employers must make sure risks to the health and safety of their employees and customers are protected so far as reasonably practicable. Employers must carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments to ensure risks, including COVID, are controlled. Further advice is available. 

Can takeaway alcohol be served?

Yes, Government has confirmed that takeaway alcohol can be provided from step 2, further guidelines are expected on the detail, however, our current interpretation is that you will need to differentiate between sales of alcohol that will genuinely be taken away from the premises and the alcohol that will be consumed in the outdoor area. If it is the latter then table service rules apply.

Business and Planning Act 2020

From 22 July 2020 the Business and Planning Act 2020 has temporarily modified the Licensing Act 2003 in order to provide for an automatic extension to the terms of most premises licences which only permit the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises to allow for the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premise.

The new off-sales permission will permit off-sales to be made at a time when the licensed premises are open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises, subject to a cut-off time of 11pm or the closure time of an existing outside area, which is earlier.  Measures also temporarily suspend existing licence conditions in so far as they are inconsistent with the new off-sales permission.

Conditions on existing dual premises licences (permitting both on-sales and off-sales) that would prevent one or more of the following are also suspended under the temporary off-sales permission:

1. off-sales being made at a time when the premise is open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises (subject to a cut of time of 11pm or the closure time of an existing outdoor area, whichever is earlier;

2. off-sales being sold in an open container; and

3. deliveries to buildings used for residential or work purposes

The following premises are not affected:

  • premises licensed after 22 July 2020
  • premises licensed for off-sales only, such as shops and supermarkets
  • private members' clubs who hold a club premises certificate

The permission and any conditions attached to it are temporary.  The permission will lapse on 30 September 2021, unless the temporary period is extended by regulations made by the Secretary of State or is otherwise suspended, removed or varied.

You are not required to change either your licence or your summary to show that you are taking advantage of the permission, however, you must prepare "a section 172F statement" and details of what is required to be included in this can be found within the Government guidance issued for this matter. An example copy can be found here

The section 172F statement must be kept on the premises or under the control of the holder of the premises licence or a person who works at the premises who has been nominated by the holder of the premises licence for this purpose. A copy of the section 172 F statement must be prominently displayed at the premises alongside the summary of the premises licence.

The Government advises that if you want to start using this permission then you should notify the council as your licensing authority. Please notify us by email stating the name of the premises, when you wish to start selling alcohol as off-sales, and any measures that you intend to implement to prevent the activity from causing a nuisance.

Materials for businesses

The NHS posters - why and how customers check into venues 

Covid-19 re-opening toolkit

Restart Grant Scheme 

The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses with premises in the rating list in non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care, accommodation or gym sectors with a one-off grant, to help them reopen safely when restrictions are lifted.

This grant will not be automatically awarded to eligible businesses. You must apply for this grant below. Please note to be eligible for this grant your business premises must be in the rating list.