No dance floors, no raised voices, and no live performances are among the Government’s recommendations for reopening pubs and restaurants
Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that many hospitality businesses would be permitted to reopen from July 4.
This includes pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as hairdressers, museums, cinemas and art galleries, which have been shuttered since March – but theatres, nightclubs and gig venues are still waiting for a reopening date.
Following the announcement, official guidance has now been published on how restaurants, bars, pubs and takeaways can reopen safely and operate in a ‘Covid-secure’ manner.
The rules for bars and restaurants include a ban on live entertainment, and venues will be required to keep a record of customer contact details.
The guidance also suggests turning dance floors into seating areas, keeping music volume low, and switching to table service wherever possible.
People are only permitted to go out for a meal or a drink inside a pub or restaurant with members of one other household, after Boris Johnson relaxed the rules on meeting indoors.
Groups of up to six people from any number of households can meet in an outdoor terrace or beer garden.
Operators are expected to ‘encourage compliance’ with the rules at the time of booking or on arrival, and different households must still remain a safe distance apart.
The Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that the current two metre rule will be reduced to ‘one metre plus’.
Two metres should still be maintained wherever possible, but one metre will now be permitted as long as risk mitigation is in place.
The guidance does not include details of what measures should be taken at less than one metre, but is likely to include screens and face coverings.
It will mean many venues will be expected to reconfigure venue layouts to provide adequate space between customers.
One-way systems, clear signage, floor markings, outdoor queueing systems and contactless payments are all recommended.
Operators have been asked to collect the contact details of customers for 21 days – this is to assist the NHS Test and Trace service in the case of local outbreaks.
Further details of that will be set out shortly, with a system designed in line with data protection legislation.
Venues will not be permitted to host any sort of live performances – be they music, comedy or drama – in a bid to prevent large gatherings.
It’s hoped the ban on such events will ‘mitigate the risks of aerosol transmission – from either the performer(s) or their audience’.
In a similar vein, the guidance also encourages operators to dial down the volume on their sound systems, taking any steps necessary to ensure people don’t need to raise their voices – shouting could increase the risk of transmission.
Indoor entertainment spaces such as dance floors should be reconfigured to seating, rather than standing, areas – a move already seen at the Albert Hall, which has filled its gig floor with dining tables to manage the overspill from Albert’s Schloss.
Establishments are asked to consider adding extra parking or bike racks so that customers can avoid using public transport.
At the same time they are also encouraged to make use of outdoor areas for service where possible, by increasing outside seating and putting bar or food service stalls in beer gardens.
The government guidance states that contact between customers and staff needs to be kept to a minimum, which means table service wherever possible and no loitering at the bar.
Customers should expect to see doors (except fire doors) propped open in venues moving forward, to minimise touch points.
Doors and windows will also be open wherever appropriate to aid with ventilation too.
Customers who want to wear face coverings are allowed to do so, but it won’t be a requirement.
Manchester restaurant operators are excited – but cautious – to welcome customers again next weekend, though some have decided to remain closed for the time being.
The government had faced criticism for delayed the reopening news, with many operators saying they needed time to order stock, unfurlough staff, and prepare their venues for a safe reopening.
You can read the full Government guidance here. Sector-specific guidance will also be published for other industries.