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McDonald's and Pret 'not included' in new table service rules

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  • Coronavirus pandemic
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McDonald's, Pret a Manger and similar restaurants without an alcohol licence will not need to serve customers at tables, the government has confirmed.

On Tuesday new rules governing hospitality were announced.

They mean pubs and other places with licensed premises must provide table service.

Confusion had been sparked after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested on Wednesday that all restaurants could need table service.

He told the Today programme: "In all of the restaurants and hospitality you can go in and order from the tables - what you can't do without a mask is just sit around and mill around.

"My understanding is that you need to be able to order from the tables. But of course the guidance will be very clear."

The updated guidelines specified that all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England must have a 22:00 closing time from Thursday.

These measures are designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Cases and hospital admissions in the UK are rising again, which prompted the updated guidance.

Industry group UK Hospitality criticised the government approach, saying restaurants and pubs were having to make changes at short notice.

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Our understanding is that quick-service restaurants will be exempt from the new rules, but there is certainly a degree of confusion.

"The government is clearly struggling to catch up with announcements and policy is changing on a daily basis.

"Businesses deserve better than this when they are expected to follow new rules at short notice. Particularly when those rules are going to have such an impact."

Ms Nicholls added that the previous guidelines were better for pubs and restaurants as they allowed businesses more flexibility in implementing coronavirus measures.

"Venues are not identical, even outwardly similar ones, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works.

"Business owners know what works from them in their venues. They are the best placed to know how to control the flow of customers through their business."

Rule changes

The new rules in England state businesses must take customers' contact details by law, so they can be traced if there is a coronavirus outbreak.

They can be fined up to £10,000 for not doing this, or if they take reservations of more than six, or do not enforce social distancing.

Staff in hospitality venues must now wear masks, as must customers who are not seated at their table to eat or drink.

The penalty for not wearing a mask, or breaking the ''rule of six'' has doubled to £200 for a first offence.

In Wales, pubs, bars and restaurants will also have to close by 22:00 from Thursday, with supermarkets and off-licences not allowed to sell alcohol after that time.

In Scotland, a 22:00 curfew comes in on Friday.

Customers must wear face coverings if they are not seated at a table.

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  • Covid: Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm closing times