What are the rules for restaurants reopening?

Restaurant businesses in England can now serve diners seated outdoors as of today (12 April), as the government's roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions continues.

In order to support sector businesses as they reopen to the public, trade body UKHospitality has issued guidance with the rules operators need to know.

The information, which has been put together jointly with other trade organisations the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping, seeks to eliminate the government's guidance being interpreted incorrectly by hospitality businesses. 

What are the new rules as of 12 April?

  • Review your Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure that all relevant mitigations are in place and that staff are aware of their responsibilities.
  • You must have an NHS QR Code poster accessible to all customers as well as an alternative method for recording customer contact details. Customers details must be collected, via the app or otherwise, before they place an order.
  •  All customers (16+) must provide their details for Test and Trace. You must take reasonable steps to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide false details. You do not have to check customers’ phones if they use the NHS app, but you should satisfy yourself they have done so (i.e. by asking customers if they have checked-in). Please note that this last point (i.e. not having to check phones) is yet to be confirmed in writing but is expected to be soon.
  • Customers are only allowed indoors to: walk to the outdoor area, use the toilet, baby change and breast feeding facilities or make payment at the bar as a last resort. Customers must wear face coverings indoors and not loiter or congregate.
  • Staff must wear face coverings in indoor areas, unless they are separated from customers by a screen or similar. Face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors by staff or customers.
  • Outdoor seating and tables should be reconfigured to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between groups of customers. The government has confirmed that social distancing applies between tables, not within groups sitting at tables.
  • Customers must be seated at a table to order, be served and consume their food and/or drink in venues serving alcohol. Ideally payment should also be taken at table, however as a last resort (and only if not possible outdoors) payment can be taken indoors. 
  • It is no longer the case that a substantial meal has to be ordered with alcohol.
  • Groups must be a maximum of six people, but can number more than six, if comprised from only two households.
  • Outdoor structures must follow the same rules as smoking shelters – 50% or more of the sides must be open – in order to be classed as 'outdoors'.
  • You can offer background music and television outside, if it is kept at a reasonable volume and shouting/singing/chanting is prevented. Incidental live music is permitted.
  • Customers making takeaway purchases are exempt from both Test and Trace and the requirement to be seated whilst ordering but their purchase must be consumed off-premise (including outside of adjacent areas).