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Guide to the reopening of indoor hospitality for licensed premises

All you need to know about how to open your licensed premises safely.

Service of food and drink on licensed premises

From 17th May hospitality venues will be able to open for indoor as well as outdoor service.

  • Where alcohol is served on your licensed premises food or drink must be ordered and served whilst customers are seated. This means customers cannot order at a bar or counter. Businesses must also take steps to ensure that customers remain seated whilst consuming their food or drink whether alcohol is served or not.
  • If there is no alternative option, customers may pay at a bar or counter.

Number of persons permitted

  • Customers will be able to meet indoors in groups of up to six people or two households.
  • Customers will be able to meet outdoors in groups up to thirty people.

Ensure you know what your customer capacity limits are in any indoor and outdoor spaces in line with appropriate COVID-19 / health and safety / fire safety risk assessment and that these numbers are not exceeded.

  • Tables must be spaced at least 2m apart, or 1m with mitigation where 2m is not viable.

Outdoor structures and covered areas

A structure or covered area is considered indoors if it is substantially enclosed (as per smoke free legislation). As such you must ensure:

  • any outdoor structure or covered area used by groups of more than 6 or two households must have at least 50% of the total side area open.
  • Open sides must not be close to walls, fences or other obstructions that will impede ventilation.

Toilet facilities

Customers will be permitted to use toilets within premises; however, you should have in place queuing arrangements to ensure that customers are adequately distanced.

  • Floor markings, one-way systems, signage, and staff oversight will assist. You may need to limit capacity to facilitate social distancing and should ensure that these areas are cleaned regularly.
  • Any structures/covered areas must comply with health & safety and fire risk assessments.

Face coverings

  • Customers must wear face coverings in hospitality venues when indoors (unless seated at a table or exempt), for example, when accessing toilets.
  • It is also compulsory for staff in hospitality venues to wear face coverings, in indoor areas that are open to the public.
  • You are legally obliged to display a notice, reminding customers to wear a face covering before entering indoor premises, unless they are exempt from doing so.

Test and trace information

If customers are eating and drinking on your premises, you are legally obliged to:

  • display and make available the NHS QR Code for customers with a smartphone to scan upon entry. You can use this link to obtain one for your business – coronavirus-qr-poster
  • Keep a manual record of customers who do not have facilities to use the QR code. Details must be stored for 21 days and shared with NHS Test & Trace and the local authority if requested.
  • You are required to ensure all members of the party over 16 either use the QR code or are recorded on the manual system.
  • You must refuse entry to customers who refuse to provide these details, or where you have reason to believe the details provided are inaccurate.

Risk assessment

Implement COVID-safe practises; update your risk assessment, in relation to the information set out above, including:

  • signage
  • capacity and customer management
  • table spacing for social distancing purposes
  • hand sanitiser stations, ensuring a comprehensive cleaning regime is in place in customer and staff areas, including toilets, contact points,cleaning of condiments or provision of single use condiments.
  • Ensure all staff receive refresher training before reopening and understand the procedures that are in place.

You can find further information on risk assessments here:

The Food Standards Agency have provided a checklist to reopen safely during COVID-19 after a period of closure: covid-19

  • If your business has been closed, consider the water system management and the risk of Legionella – the total or partial closure of businesses raises the need for effective controls to maintain the safety of water systems.
  • It is advisable to re-familiarise yourself with the conditions of your existing premises licence.

For further information on how to make your workplace COVID-19 secure visit: offering-takeaway-or-delivery

Asymptomatic Staff COVID-19 testing (staff with no symptoms)

  • To help your business stay open, we strongly advise that you encourage your employees to take rapid lateral flow coronavirus tests twice a week. These tests will pick up any positive cases and any employee that test positive can self-isolate straightaway, and not pass the virus on to the rest of your workforce or your customers, risking closure.
  • Rapid lateral flow tests are available to anyone and can be ordered free online at
  • Alternatively, you can encourage your employees to visit a rapid test centre twice a week.
  • If staff test positive with a lateral flow test it is now recommended that they book a confirmatory PCR test. If this is done and negative it may release them from isolation and allow them to return to work.
  • If your employees are required to self-isolate, you must not allow them to continue to work in any setting other than their place of isolation.
  • Please note, if staff have any COVID-19 symptoms they must isolate immediately and get a PCR test.
  • Lateral flow tests are only suitable for persons without symptoms
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