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12 rules every operator needs to know as they reopen

Lago Lounge, Rushden Lakes

Leading trade bodies have published a one-page guide for the key rules that licensees need to know as they reopen for outdoor service today.

The clarity is especially important after wildly differing – and often incorrect – interpretations of some of the new rules have been sent to businesses by some local authorities.

Trade bodies UKHospitality, BII and BBPA, have urged enforcement bodies to take a “light-touch but consistent” approach and hope the document will help businesses to push back on incorrect enforcement.

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Outdoor eating and drinking (England): 12 rules for 12 April

1. Review your Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure that all relevant mitigations are in place and that staff are aware of their responsibilities.

2. You must have an NHS QR Code poster accessible to all customers as well as an alternative method for recording customer contact details. Customers details must be collected, via the app or otherwise, before they place an order.

3. All customers (16+) must provide their details for Test and Trace. You must take reasonable steps to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide false details. You do not have to check customers’ phones if they use the NHS app, but you should satisfy yourself they have done so (i.e. by asking customers if they have checked-in). Note that this last point (i.e. not having to check phones) is yet to be confirmed in writing but is expected soon.

4. Customers are only allowed indoors to: walk to the outdoor area, use the toilet, baby change and breast feeding facilities or make payment at the bar as a last resort. Customers must wear face coverings indoors and not loiter or congregate.

5. Staff must wear face coverings in indoor areas, unless they are separated from customers by a screen or similar. Face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors by staff or customers.

6. Outdoor seating and tables should be reconfigured to maintain social distancing guidelines (two metres, or one metre-plus with risk mitigation where two metre is not viable) between groups of customers. Government have confirmed that social distancing applies between tables, not within groups sitting at tables.

7. Customers must be seated at a table to order, be served and consume their food and/or drink in venues serving alcohol. Ideally payment should also be taken at table, however as a last resort (and only if not possible outdoors) payment can be taken indoors.

8. It is no longer the case that a substantial meal has to be ordered with alcohol.

9. Groups must be a maximum of 6 people, but can number more than 6, if comprised from only two households.

10. Outdoor structures must follow the same rules as smoking shelters – 50% or more of the sides must be open – in order to be classed as “outdoors”.

11. You can offer background music and television outside, if it is kept at a reasonable volume and shouting/singing/chanting is prevented. Incidental live music is permitted.

12. Customers making takeaway purchases are exempt from both Test and Trace and the requirement to be seated whilst ordering but their purchase must be consumed off-premise (including outside of adjacent areas).

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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