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Coronavirus: How are pubs keeping customers safe?

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Image copyright Getty Images Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to stay open despite greater restrictions on social gatherings in England. What are the rules for going out around the UK, and what do you have to do?What are the new rules in England?People in England can meet in groups of no more…

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Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to stay open despite greater restrictions on social gatherings in England.

What are the rules for going out around the UK, and what do you have to do?

What are the new rules in England?

People in England can meet in groups of no more than six from Monday, but pubs, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to stay open so long as these groups do not mingle with other groups at each venue.

Table bookings of more than six will not be allowed.

Hospitality businesses are now legally required to take customers’ contact details so they can be traced if a potential outbreak is linked to the venue. Previously, they were advised to do so, but didn’t have to officially.

Businesses can be fined if they take reservations of more than six, do not enforce social distancing or do not take customers’ contact details.

What are the rules around the UK?

In Scotland, up to eight people from three different households can meet. In Wales it’s up to four households and in Northern Ireland it’s up to six people from two households.

In Scotland, it is mandatory to provide table service, while pubs in Northern Ireland may only open if they serve food.

Social distancing across the UK is officially 2m – but in England people can be “1m plus” if they, for instance, wear a face covering or don’t sit face-to-face.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes can keep individual groups closer than 2m if they take certain steps to keep customers safe.

Areas under ”local lockdown” due to high coronavirus rates have different rules.

Some places, such as Caerphilly, are only allowed to take bookings consisting of one household, while hospitality venues in Bolton can only serve takeaway food and drink.

What contact details do I have to provide?

UK pub and hospitality trade bodies have published guidance for bars and restaurants on how to operate contact tracing.

  • Contact details only need to be taken from one person in a group
  • The details must be kept for 21 days
  • Customers only need to give their name and phone number. Owners should also note their arrival time, and how long they stay
  • Data can be taken in any way – on paper, online or during a phone booking

If a customer tests positive, will the pub or restaurant have to close?

Possibly, but not necessarily.

Official government advice says an NHS Test and Trace call does not always mean a pub or restaurant must close.

It depends on the circumstances and when the infected person visited.

NHS Test and Trace could ask staff to:

  • get tested for Covid-19
  • take extra care with social distancing
  • self-isolate “in some circumstances”

Local health protection officials have the power to close establishments.

Several pubs have temporarily closed after customers or staff tested positive for coronavirus.

If you are contacted personally by NHS Test and Trace, you should follow the advice and be prepared to self-isolate for a fortnight.

Is it safe to go to the pub?

Guidance has been issued in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on measures that pubs and restaurants must take to keep customers and staff safe.

They include:

  • The option of ordering food on apps
  • Staff should wash their hands before handling plates and cutlery
  • Music should be kept at a low volume to avoid people needing to shout, which increases the risk of transmission
  • Pub-goers will be encouraged to book tables in advance- Live gigs and standing at the bar will not be allowed
  • Controlled access to toilets

How did the hospitality sector cope during lockdown?

The hospitality sector was the third-largest employer in the country in 2018, according to UK Hospitality.

But many restaurants and cafes were already struggling even before the Covid-19 outbreak, in the face of rising rents and falling consumer spending.

Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin, says the new group restriction in England ”comes at a delicate point in our pub recovery”.

”We need the Government to send the clear message that pubs remain open for business and the public should continue to support them.”

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Media captionHarry in Gloucestershire says the lockdown has been “tough” for his business.

Since the pandemic hit, job cuts and closures were announced by several chains such as Byron Burger and Pizza Express .

Thousands of workers in the industry have been furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme, which allows them to receive 80% of their monthly salary up to £2,500.

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