New Coronavirus rules: what they mean for hospitality businesses

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

New Coronavirus rules: what they mean for hospitality businesses

Related tags Coronavirus Restaurant Public house Hotel Legislation

The Government has introduced new rules for hospitality businesses from today, including a 10pm curfew, the displaying of NHS QR code posters and mandatory face masks for workers. Here's what the rules mean for your business, staff and customers.

What does the curfew mean to hospitality businesses?
From today (24 September) under the curfew, restaurants and bars, pubs, cafes, including workplace cafes, social clubs and casinos in England and Wales must close between 10pm - 5am. No customers can be on the premises during this period. Workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food. The same rule applies to businesses in Scotland from tomorrow (25 September). Businesses providing food or drink prepared on the premises for immediate consumption off the premises, including supermarkets; convenience stores, corner shops and newsagents; and petrol stations also fall under the new ruling, according to the UK Health Protection.

What about hotel and members’ clubs restaurants and bars?
Hospitality services within hotels and members clubs, such as hotel dining rooms and bars will also need to close to the public between 10pm and 5am. Hotels will still be able to provide food and drink through room service as long as it is ordered by phone or online and consideration is being given to allowing hotel residents to continue to consume coffee or drinks at the end of a meal in public lounges after the 10pm curfew. There has also been confirmation that hotel residents will not be required to be in their rooms by 10pm and may continue to sit in public areas, according to UKHospitality.

Do I need to provide table service?
If you serve alcohol for consumption on the premises food and drink must be ordered by customers who are seated and served to them at the table, with reasonable steps taken to ensure they remain seated. In England and Wales, unlicensed cafes, coffee shops and restaurants will be able to continue to permit counter ordering and service, but customers must be seated indoors if they are consuming on the premises – they are not permitted to stand up to eat or drink inside or outside a venue. In Scotland, table service is required in all hospitality venues. UK Hospitality says it is seeking urgent clarification about the requirements for licensed premises and in particular those businesses whose model is predicated on counter service. Fast casual restaurants that have a licence but don’t sell much alcohol could just cease selling alcohol to avoid the waiter requirement, according to Jack Spiegler, partner at Thomas & Thomas.

Can I serve takeaway food after 10pm?
Takeaways are permitted after 10pm providing they are delivered, or a customer collects in a vehicle and any food and drink is passed to them without leaving the vehicle. Restaurants cannot accept any walk-in orders or collections.

Do front of house staff have to wear face masks?
Yes. Staff in indoor hospitality are required to wear facemasks in England, Scotland and Wales.

Do chefs have to wear face masks?
Not if they don’t want to. Workers in back of house roles that are not customer facing do not need to wear masks, according to UKHospitality. Staff working in back of house areas will only have to put on a mask if they move into public customer facing areas of the business. It is worth noting that a visor does not count as a face covering in England, and a permitted face covering has to be something that not only safely covers the nose and mouth but 'fits securely round the side of the face'. Full face visors are understood to meet the requirement in Scotland.

Do my customers have to wear face masks?
Customers are required to wear a face mask when entering and leaving a hospitality business and walking around it, such as going to a toilet. They do not need to wear one while seated at a table to eat or drink.

How many people can eat together in my restaurant?
In England, the rule of six prevents social gatherings of more than six people of any age - including in restaurants, however all six can be from different households. Business need to take bookings of no more than six people and ensure people are not meeting in groups of more than six people on their premises. In Scotland, no more than six people from up to two different households should meet at a time but children under 12 from those two households are not counted towards the six people limit. In Wales, only six people are able to meet indoors and must be part of a single extended household, but this does not include children under 11.

What about test and trace requirements?

In England, Scotland and Wales it is mandatory to collect customer details. Businesses need to display the official NHS QR code posters from today (24 September) to enable customers can check-in. If individuals choose to check-in using the QR code poster they do not need to log in via any other route. The regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities, who will have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for venues that are failing to comply, or the police as a last resort. Fines will rise to up to £4,000 for repeat offenders.




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