Everything you need to know about reopening restaurants, bars and pubs from July 4th

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published its guidelines for restaurants, bars, pubs and takeaway establishments in England to reopen on July 4th, as per the Prime Minister's announcement in the House of Commons on June 23rd

Offering some long-awaited clarity to operators, many of whom have been on the fence as to whether or not to reopen early July given the lack of information as to what would be expected of them, the text includes instructions for making risk assessments, protecting staff and guests, PPE, and where to seek further, more specific information. 

In its introduction, it reads that "the UK is currently experiencing a public health emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," making it "critical that businesses take a range of measures to keep everyone safe."

What changes will need to be made?

The document, it says, sets out "to help you understand how to work safely and keep your customers safe during this pandemic, ensuring as many people as possible comply with social distancing guidelines" - which it specifies should be kept to two metres where possible, or one metre with additional "risk mitigation." 

"We hope it gives you freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full guidelines here.

Key takeaways

  • All employers will be expected to fill in a risk assessment accounting for Covid-19 to their staff and customers, which must be shared with staff, and consult with an employee representative about the risks they are exposed to while undertaking their work.
  • Customers and staff who are unwell must not be let onto the premises
  • Establishments must increase the frequency of surface cleaning and handwashing
  • Social distancing must be kept at 2m where possible, or 1m with additional mitigating measures in place, such as further increasing of hand and surface cleaning, working back to back instead of facing one another, reducing team sizes and using screens or barriers to keep employees at a safe distance from one another.
  • A temporary record of visitors must be kept for 21 days to assist with the NHS test and trace system if needed.
  • Establishments are expected to, to the best of their ability, respect the rules on who can meet - two households at once indoors, and up to six people from separate households outdoors - when welcoming guests. 
  • All live performances are banned until further notice
  • Establishments must work with neighbouring sites and local authorities to avoid gatherings outside, consider staggered entries, and advise guests to organise travel ahead of time.
  • Other steps, which, it says will "usually be needed" will include an evaluation of how many people can reasonably social distance inside a venue, encouraging outdoor (rather than indoor) queuing, encouraging guest's use of hand sanitiser upon entry, considering staggering opening hours with neighbouring venues.

Guidance for Food and Drink service

  • Orders must be taken at a safe social distance, and markings must be used to remind customers of safe social distances
  • Cutlery and condiments must be provided upon each guest's arrival, using disposable where possible
  • Reducing contact with surfaces, encouraging contactless payments, minimising contact between staff and customers and optimising ventilation in interior spaces
  • If takeaway or delivery, reducing queues for orders and pick-ups by encouraging online orders, minimising contact between delivery staff and kitchen staff, encouraging contactless payment


  • Using signs to encourage good hand washing / sanitising processes, and making sure soap / sanitiser are always available
  • Increasing cleaning in line with usage
  • Displaying an  updated cleaning schedule 
  • Increasing the frequency of waste disposal

Making sure customers are clear on what to do 

  • Providing information ahead of customers' arrival on safety measures, and declining to provide service should they fail to comply with them
  • Making sure updated information is available to staff and customers at all times - using posters or communicating with them orally.


  • Making sure only essential workers (ie, not admin) are on site
  • Keeping home workers in the loop, providing them with necessary equipment and monitoring their health, mental and physical
  • People shielding, deemed 'clinically extremely vulnerable' should work from home where possible, and in the case that this isn't possible, the risk to them working on site should be rigorously assessed before a decision is made. 
  • Self-isolating staff should work from home where possible, or given statutory sick pay if this applies to them.
  • People whose protected characteristics - such as age, race, state of pregnancy or having recently given birth -might either expose them to a different degree of risk should be communicated with to make adjustments where necessary, while making sure steps do not have a negative effect on some groups compared to others.

Social distance for staff - what does the + in 1m + mean?

  • Staff must be encouraged to travel to and from work by safe means including walking and cycling, and to wash/sanitise their hands upon arrival and before leaving the premises. Washing facilities must be provided so that they can wash their uniforms, and travel to and from work in separate clothing.
  • Movement within venues must be kept to a minimum by restricting access to certain areas, allocating workstations to staff and using electronic means of communication where possible.
  • Staff must be kept at a safe distance from one another while working, or use screens/shields if this isn't possible
  • Food preparation must comply with FSA guidelines, staff must be kept to a minimum with minimal interaction between people.


While live entertainement is banned until further notice, sports broadcasts and playing music will be allowed. 

However, guests should be encouraged to avoid raising their voices, as shouting could increase the risk of aerosol spreading of the virus. 


Meetings must be held remotely where possible, or otherwise in well ventilated rooms or outside, with sanitary precautions including available hand sanitiser and social distancing measures in place.

Common areas

Staff should be encouraged to take staggered breaks, outside if possible, and markings should be placed where queues are likely to form. 

Accidents and security risks

Emergency and accident procedures should comply with social distancing where possible. And, with some venues having to enforce search policies, staff must be protected against risks.

The document is expected to be updated regularly. You can check for updates here, and if you have any specific questions or feedback, you can email [email protected].

Cleanliness and hygiene

  • Check ventilation and air conditionning systems to make sure they don't automatically adjust due to lower than normal occupancy levels, and further ensure good ventilation by opening windows and doors where possible. 
  • Before and after reopening, operators must consult particular FSA guidance, as well as legionella prevention guidance.
  • Doors (excluding fire doors) can be wedged open to reduce contact, and surfaces and objects which staff and customers come into contact with must be cleaned regularly.
  • If an occurrence of Covid-19 is detected on the premises, operators must clean according to the following guidance.
  • In the kitchen, where cleaning regimes should already be stringent, operators must consider additional surface cleaning and hand washing before touching crockery and cutlery, and providing bins for the collection of used towels and overalls, 
  • Hand washing and drying, hand sanitising and surface cleaning should be practiced and encouraged throughout the workplace with signage and verbal communication. Where there are showers in the workplace, these must be cleaned according to guidelines, personal items should not be left behind and social distancing must be enforced where possible.
  • Handling goods and supplies should be subjected to the same level of caution, with procedures in place for receiving and transporting them, cleaning out pick-up vehicles, and exercising caution when handling laundry to avoid contaminating surfaces.


The instructions here are somewhat confusing - PPE already in use to conduct normal activities should be used as normal, and, as stated above, PPE can be used to mitigate risks if social distancing isn't possible. 

However, it states, "When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE."

Face coverings 

Unlike clinical masks, face coverings can be any material covering the face, and while they do not provide any protection for the person wearing it, they can protect others from being at risk of infection. 

While obligatory on public transport, these should only be worn by staff if they wish to, and if they do, employers should encourage good practice, including washing hands before and after fastening the covering, avoiding touching it or one's face to avoid contaminating it, and changing it daily. 

What will the consequences be if operators don't respect the guidelines?

Asked what the consequences might be for establishments that don't abide by the rules, Business Secretary Alok Sharma told the BBC's Today Programme that operators would face "up to two years in prison" if an inspection revealed them to be putting their staff and/or their guests at risk by failing to take the necessary precautions to reign in the virus. 

However, the minister didn't detail how breaches will be identified and how the rules will be enforced, saying only that it would be "a top priority" for the HSE.

Is this a green light for the industry?

In his speech announcing the relaxation of lockdown measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed that the British public should make no mistake, and that "there will be flare ups for which locals measures will be needed," and that the government "will not hesitate to apply the brakes and reinforce lockdown measures on a national scale if needed."

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 24th June 2020

Everything you need to know about reopening restaurants, bars and pubs from July 4th