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Guidelines for reopening restaurants and pubs following COVID-19 in England

By Jessie Caldwell Guidelines for reopening restaurants and pubs following COVID-19 in England

Pubs, restaurants and other businesses will be allowed to reopen from 04 July, following the most recent announcement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 23 June 2020.

While these changes are welcomed by many who have been required to close their businesses because of COVID-19, there is also uncertainty as to how to operate safely in order to ensure that there is no return of a ‘second wave’. Below you will find a summary of both general and industry-specific guidelines, current as of 24 June 2020. For further information, please consult gov.uk.

5 steps to working safely

These guidelines should be followed by ALL industries as applicable:

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
    1. Follow HSE guidance
    2. Consult with workers or trade unions
    3. Share results of your risk assessment with your workforce
  2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
    1. Provide guidance on proper handwashing and hygiene
    2. Provide sanitiser around the workplace and in washrooms
    3. Regularly clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched
    4. Enhance cleaning for busy or high traffic areas
    5. Provide paper towels or electric dryers for drying hands
  3. Encourage working from home
    1. Take all reasonable steps to help your employees work from home, as applicable. This includes providing equipment, access to work systems and looking after their physical and mental wellbeing
  4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible, and 1m where not feasible
    1. Put up signs to remind workers and visitors to social distance
    2. Avoid sharing workstations
    3. Use markings like floor tape to help keep 2m distance
    4. Arrange one-way traffic where possible
    5. Provide services as 'appointment only' where possible
  5. Where 2m distance is not possible, manage risk
    1. Decide if the activity is necessary for the business to operate
    2. Keep the activity time as short as possible
    3. Use screens or barriers to separate
    4. Work back-to-back or side-to-side when possible
    5. Stagger arrival and departure times

Guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

Those in close contact services are advised to follow the 5 steps to working safely and follow additional precautions, such as:

This guidance applies to:

  • Restaurants
  • Pubs
  • Bars
  • Beer gardens
  • Food to go
  • Cafes
  • Social and similar clubs
  • Mobile catering and contact catering or similar

The above are permitted to open from 04 July 2020, while following guidelines.

This guidance does not apply to food preparation or food service in clinical or healthcare settings.

Those in this industry are advised to follow the 5 steps to working safely and follow additional precautions, such as:

  • Ensure both workers and customers who feel unwell stay home. This may include asking those who show symptoms to leave the premises
  • Provide workers with visors or screens, especially when working in close proximity for an extended period of time
  • Use partitions and screens at counters and checkout areas
  • Encourage contactless payment
  • If workers need to be in close proximity to one another, use consistent pairing
  • Stagger break times and start times
  • Encourage workers to bring their own food and snack and not leave site during their shift
  • Providing storage for staff clothes and bags
  • Requesting staff change into work uniforms on site using appropriate facilities/changing areas, where social distancing and hygiene guidelines can be met
  • Washing uniforms on site, where appropriate, or requesting workers to regularly wash uniforms at home
  • Use radios/telephones and discourage non-essential trips within your venue

Keeping customers and visitors safe

  • To assist with NHS Test and Trace, use a booking system where possible and keep track of contact information for a minimum of 21 days
  • At this time, venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience
  • Work with authorities and neighbouring businesses to ensure that your cumulative impact is not too great
  • Take steps to avoid queues and where possible have queues outdoors
  • Manage the number of people allowed in a given space at a given time
  • Reconfigure indoor and outdoor seating to maintain distancing guidelines (2m where possible or 1m with risk mitigation)
  • Provide clear signage and guidance on social distancing and hygiene protocol
  • When seating guests, encourage compliance with limits on gatherings. Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any 2 households (or support bubbles), while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any 2 households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most 6 people from any number of households
  • Encourage customers with children to supervise their children and ensure they are following guidelines

Managing safety of food and drink service

  • Maintain 1-2m distance from customers when taking orders
  • Use marks on the floor to encourage appropriate distancing
  • Minimise self service, including cutlery and condiments
  • Provide disposable condiments where possible
  • Encourage customers to stay at their table and not lean on surfaces or counters

Takeaway and delivery services

  • Maintain usual food safety guidance
  • Encourage online ordering or telephone ordering to reduce queues. Stagger pickup times where possible
  • Minimise contact between kitchen staff and front of house workers, delivery drivers or riders
  • Limit venue access for those waiting to collect and disinfect this area often

Service at the venue

  • Encourage contactless ordering (for example through an app or website) where available
  • Minimise staff contact with customers. Consider assigning one staff member to each table, rather than allowing multiple staff members to help a certain table
  • Where bar/counter service is unavoidable, prevent lingering after ordering
  • Prioritise outdoor seating or service stations where possible

These guidelines are for England, and may differ from those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As guidelines develop, consult gov.uk for the most up to date information.


Jessie Caldwell

Digital Marketing and Events Specialist A Florida native enjoying life in the rainiest city in the UK. Lover of bouldering, drinker of pink gin, and watcher of Friends.