Coronavirus lockdown: What are the new guidelines for opening pubs and restaurants?

24 June 2020, 17:23

Pubs and restaurants will reopen in July in England
Pubs and restaurants will reopen in July in England. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Boris Johnson has announced that pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and BnBs can reopen from 4 July in England, as lockdown is continually eased - but what will the "new normal" look like?

The government has published guidance on how businesses should operate to ensure social distancing is maintained to keep customers safe.

The rules on social distancing themselves have changed, reducing it from two metres to "one metre plus", meaning they should remain one metre apart while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission - such as wearing a facial covering.

But how will this "new normal" change the way pubs and restaurants operate when they reopen?

Guidelines have been issued for pubs and restaurants
Guidelines have been issued for pubs and restaurants. Picture: PA

How will customers be managed?

The main information given for restaurants and pubs is that the capacity of the establishments should be limited so that social distancing can be maintained.

This includes managing any pinch points where customers or staff may come into close contact. It also means the capacity may have to be reduced down further than just how many people can fit into the establishment at one time, to facilitate people moving around.

Any groups indoors should only consist of people from two households, including support bubbles.

It is against the law for people to gather in groups of up to more than 30 people, except for the limited circumstances. In these specific circumstances, venues must take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public.

Queue management and one way flows are also advised. Staff can be used to guide queues, and queues can be hosted in outdoor spaces, such as car parks.

Companies should stagger entry times with other nearby venues and take steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.

All customers should be advised to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.

There should be clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and social distancing is maintained.

Any changes to entry, exit and queue management must also take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled customers.

How will workers remain socially distanced?

Workers will need to maintain social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites.

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

Mitigating actions include:

- Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, including disinfecting of heavy footfall and frequent touch points, with particular attention to toilets

- Provision of hand sanitiser in areas where poor access to hand washing

- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible

- Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other

- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible

- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’

Social distancing must be conducted throughout the premises including entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings

There should also be clearly designated positions from which employees can provide assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance.

Will PPE be in place?

PPE is advised by the government to protect against "health or safety risks at work".

However, the government has said that only workplaces that already used PPE before the pandemic should continue to do so.

It says instead that Covid-19 should be managed through "social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE."

How will pubs and restaurants be cleaned?

Before reopening, facilities must ensure that ventilation systems are safe and serviced. Windows and doors should also be open wherever possible.

Work areas and equipment must be cleaned frequently using usual cleaning products. This especially applies to objects and surfaces that are touched frequently, such as coffee machines and staff handheld devices.

Employees must clear workspaces and remove waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.

Toilets should be socially distanced, with marked areas for where queues should form. A one in one out entry approach should also be adopted.

Clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets should be available, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage.

Again, facilities should be cleaned regularly, with attention to frequently hand touched surfaces.

For delivery of goods, picking-up and dropping-off collection points should be implemented where possible, rather than passing goods hand-to-hand.