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. 

Government Guidance dated 14 July 2021 (Step 4)

What are the rules for indoor hospitality from the 17th May?

Pubs, bars and restaurants will be allowed to open indoors, although only table service will be permitted and no standing at the bar allowed. Drinkers will not have to buy a substantial meal and there will be no 10pm curfews.

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

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.

What are the rules for face coverings indoors?

  • your customers must wear face coverings indoors except when seated
  • customers coming indoors from outdoor areas to use toilets or other facilities must wear a face covering when they are indoors
  • your staff must wear face coverings when they are indoors when they are in areas used by the public. We recommend that staff wear a face covering indoors and outdoors


What are the social distancing rules for outside?

Outside your customers must be seated and in groups of no more than 30 persons. You must have at least 2 meters between tables or one meter with mitigation.

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.

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 hold a live music event?

  • yes you can have events indoors and outdoors but you must complete a COVID 19 risk assessment and make sure that social distancing between the permitted social contact groups of attendees can be maintained. You have a responsibility to take all reasonable action to mitigate the risk to public health
  • Indoors the rule for social contact groups is 6 people or 2 households
  • outdoors the rule for social contact groups is 30 people
  • Indoors and outdoors there is a cap of 50% capacity (caps refer to event attendees only and do not include staff)
  • If customers are having food and / or drink at your event then they must be seated. Table service must operate and attendees cannot buy drinks from the bar
  • You will need to ensure that there is no mixing between social contact groups.  You may need to employ extra staff to manage this
  • Indoors you must make sure that attendees are wearing masks

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.

For details on temporary siting at venues such as pubs to put a marquee up until 1st January 2022. please see the following:

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. 

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.

Once we have sold alcohol as a takeaway are we responsible for controlling customers behaviour once they leave the premises?

It is your responsibility to ensure that alcohol is not sold to someone who is drunk, or that you are selling an irresponsible quantity of alcohol to one person. However, once they have left the immediate vicinity of your premises you are not responsible for controlling the customer's behaviour.  you do however, need to make sure that alcohol is sold and consumed responsibly. 

Can I set up a outside bar?

You can only set up a bar to serve alcohol outside if the outside area is included within the licensed area of your premises licence. The licensed area is identified on the plans that were approved as part of the premises licence application. 

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.