Earlier this week, the government announced new coronavirus restrictions on daily life in England, some of which apply to visiting restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, and takeaways. While many of these announcements are clarifications or simplifications of previous guidelines, in place since July 4th, there are some new rules for us all to wrap our heads around. So here’s what you can expect when eating or drinking out from Thursday.
I’ve heard about the 10pm curfew, what more can you tell me about that?
All restaurants, pubs, and bars must shut to customers by 10pm. That doesn’t mean last orders at 10pm. It means that the venues must be closed by 10pm.
And does this include takeaway spots?
So I won’t be able to get any cooked food after 10pm?
Actually. You will. The government’s own FAQs explain that anywhere offering food ‘for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so as long as this is through delivery service or drive-thru’.
So extending that logic, will I be able to order-and-collect?
At the time of writing, the government document only gives those two examples: delivery and drive-thru.
But that doesn’t make much sense.
Great start! What else is new?
Next on the list is face coverings. From September 24th, they must be worn by all hospitality staff, and diners, except when sitting at their tables.
Okay. So I have to wear a mask at all times? Even when I go to the toilet?
Yes. Unless you’re covered by an exemption, you must be masked whenever you come in, leave, go to the toilet, and do anything other than sit at a table. This applies to all restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés, and takeaway spots.
And staff do too?
Got it. What else do I need to know?
Table service is now mandatory in all licenced hospitality venues and you must be seated when consuming food and drink inside the premises.
Which means no ordering, drinking, or eating at the bar?
Yes. Although there are exemptions if you’re buying takeaway, like from a café, or a sandwich shop.
Okay. What about good old contact tracing? Is that still a thing?
It is. Since September 18th, businesses have been required by law to collect contact details from at least one member of every party who are eating or drinking on their premises. From September 24th, businesses will have to display the official NHS QR code posters, so that customers can check-in using the NHS contact tracing app that’s being released on the same day.
Well, obviously the Rule of Six still applies. And businesses will now be required to ensure that there are no unlawful gatherings on their premises.
Wait, what is the Rule of Six?
It’s England’s new, simplified rule governing social gatherings and it applies to all groups, including those attending hospitality venues. Basically, you must not gather in a group larger than six, either indoors or outdoors, unless you are all from the same household or support bubble. And if you are meeting with anyone outside your own household or support bubble, social distancing must be respected.
So no big parties then?
No. And there are new and hefty fines for anyone who breaches the rule, and for businesses who allow breaches on their premises.
Bloody hell. How long will these new restrictions be in place?
It’s very hard to say, but the government expects that they will apply for at least six months, if not superseded by local lockdowns.
You didn’t answer my question.
Sorry about that. If you have a question for us, you can always reach out at email@example.com. But the best and easiest way to get clear, fast answers about the precautions a restaurant is taking is to just call that restaurant directly. They’ll be happy to chat. Just be patient, understanding, and kind. These are weird times, and we’re all trying to adjust safely.