Covid: Restaurants and pubs have reopened, but what are the rules?

Published
Related Topics
image copyrightEPA

Pubs and restaurants in England are open for customers seated outside - with people only allowed indoors to use the toilet.

The Welsh government has confirmed that outdoor hospitality will reopen on Monday 26 April.

But the prospect of an indoor pint is still several weeks off.

What are the latest rules in England?

Customers no longer need to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, and there is no 22:00 curfew.

But there are still Covid measures in place:

  • Customers must order, eat and drink while seated at a table
  • They must follow the rule of six, or be in a group of any size from two households only
  • Every customer aged 16 and over must check in with NHS test and trace, or provide contact details
  • When not seated - for example being shown to a table, or going to the toilet - customers must wear face masks (unless exempt) and observe social distancing

When can I eat or drink inside?

In England, it is hoped restrictions will ease again in mid-May, if coronavirus targets permit.

  • 17 May: Customers can eat and drink indoors, in groups of up to six people, or two households of any size. Groups seated outside must have fewer than 30 people
  • 21 June: All restrictions could be lifted, with nightclubs allowed to reopen

How are venues keeping people safe?

Government guidance says pubs, cafes and restaurants must:

  • Ensure social distancing
  • Install plastic screens between tables or at tills
  • Encourage contactless payments
  • Provide disposable sauce sachets

At venues serving alcohol, payment should be taken at tables.

At those not serving alcohol, customers can order and collect from a counter but must eat outside.

image copyrightPA Media

Venues can put up outdoor shelters, gazebos or marquees. These can have a roof, but must be open-sided.

Pubs which show sport can use screens outside for matches, as long as drinkers stay seated and volume is kept low.

Venues must not provide smoking equipment such as shisha pipes.

Why can't all pubs and restaurants reopen?

Many venues don't have any or enough outside space to make reopening possible.

Only 38% of licensed premises (41,100) have designated outdoors areas across England, Scotland and Wales, according to an industry report.

Few restaurants in England have outside space (12%) - while most pubs offering full-service food do (86%).

Venues can apply to local councils for temporary pavement licences to extend their outdoor seating space.

Will I need a vaccine passport to go to the pub?

There is currently no legal requirement for customers to prove their Covid status.

But the government says it will be legal for businesses to ask customers for proof of Covid status if they wish - as long as they do not break equality laws.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously suggested pub-goers could be asked to provide a vaccine certificate, once all adults have been offered their first jab.

What about Wales?

From Saturday 24 April six people from six households will be allowed to meet outdoors socially (not including children under 11 or carers).

Indoor service could be allowed by the Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May - but that decision won't be taken until at least 17 May.

image copyrightGetty Images

What about Scotland?

From 26 April, restaurants, bars and cafes are set to:

  • Open outdoors until 22:00 with alcohol
  • Open indoors until 20:00 without alcohol
  • Serve groups of up to four people from two different households

From 17 May, they should be able to:

  • Stay open until 22:30 indoors with alcohol permitted - customers will be given two-hour slots
  • Serve alcohol outdoors until 22:00

The Scottish Government hasn't given specific dates for easing restrictions beyond May - but hospitality venues hope to be able to remain open until 23:00 by early June.

What about Northern Ireland?

From 30 April, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants can operate outdoors. Customers must be seated, with a maximum of six people from two households at each table (children aged 12 and under do not count).

Customers will not need to order a substantial meal to have an alcoholic drink.

Indoor hospitality might reopen on 24 May.

More on this story