Government publishes reopening guidance for hospitality sector

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Government publishes reopening guidance restaurants pubs July 4 Coronavirus PPE Social distancing

Related tags Government Coronavirus

The Government has published a 43-page advisory document for operators preparing to reopen on 4 July.

Split across eight defined sections, the guidance gives businesses direction on how to keeping staff and customers safe while the Coronavirus remains in general circulation.

This includes advice on social distancing for workers; cleaning the workplace; keeping customers and visitors safe; and the use of PPE and face coverings.

To help assist with the NHS Test and Trace scheme and 'help fight the virus', operators are being asked to keep a temporary record of all customers for 21 days.

It adds that, for those businesses not already using a booking system to record their customer's details, the Government will work with industry and relevant bodies to design a system in line with data protection legislation, and will set out details regarding this shortly.

The guidance goes on to advise that indoor table service must be used 'where possible', alongside further measures such as assigning a single staff member per table. 

Contactless ordering is also encouraged. 

"Outdoor table service should also be encouraged, although customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced appropriately," it continues.

"Where bar or counter service is unavoidable, preventing customers from remaining at the bar or counter after ordering."

It also suggests minimising contact between kitchen workers and front of house workers by having zones from which front of house staff can collect food, for example. 

Under the guidance, staff will be expected to stick to the new social distancing guidelines 'wherever possible' (ideally two metres, moving to 'one metre plus' if that is not viable). This includes when arriving at and departing from work; while in work; and when travelling between sites.

Employers should space out working areas to maintain distancing guidelines 'as much as possible', recognising the difficulty of moving equipment such as sinks, hobs and ovens.

Operators should also consider cleanable panels to separate working areas in larger kitchens.

Perhaps surprisingly, the guidance does not forbid customers from ordering at a bar or standing indoors while eating or drinking; and also says that workplaces 'should not' encourage the precautionary use of PPE, unless in a situation where the risk of Covid-19 transmission is very high.

It adds that risk assessments should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is 'extremely limited'.

However, if risk assessments show PPE is required, this must be provided free and must fit, while staff and customers who wish to wear face coverings should be free to do so.

Reacting to the publication of the guidance this morning (24 June), Hospitality Union's Jonathan Downey said: "There are lots of helpfully vague words and phrases like ‘where possible’, ‘encouraging compliance with’ ‘consider the use of’ and ‘minimising’. Everything is phrased as advice and is voluntary.

"For many of us this will mean operating in a near normal way with some enhanced cleaning practices and lots of additional training, care and protection for our teams.

"So it’s essentially up to [us] what [we] do, and Government has done the right thing by trusting us to do the right thing (wherever possible)."

To read the full guidance document, click here​.

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