Coronavirus: What are the new rules around going to restaurants, from curfews to table service

Boris Johnson has announced a number of new restrictions in England

Sarah Young
Wednesday 23 September 2020 07:15 BST
Boris Johnson lists new coronavirus restrictions

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Just two months after pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen, the rules have tightened again.

On Tuesday 22 September, prime minister Boris Johnson announced a raft of new restrictions designed to curb the further spread of coronavirus after the chief medical officers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland raised the alert level for Covid-19 from three to four.

“This is the moment where we must act,” he said during a speech at the House of Commons. “We've reached a perilous turning point.”

In addition to asking people to work from home where possible and reducing the number of guests permitted at weddings, Mr Johnson implemented a series of restrictions on the hospitality industry, including a new curfew for pubs and restaurants and the banning of buying drinks at the bar.

The prime minister apologised to businesses “just getting back on their feet”, stating that “we must stop the virus being transmitted in bars and restaurants”.

So, what are the new rules set to come into force in the next week? Here is everything you need to know.

10pm curfew

The prime minister has ordered all hospitality venues in England, including pubs and restaurants, to close by 10pm from this Thursday.

Mr Johnson made clear that the curfew is the time at which outlets should shut their doors, not just last orders.

“To help the police to enforce this rule, I am afraid that means alas closing, and not just calling for last orders. Simplicity is paramount,” he said.

Takeaways are included in the order to close at 10pm. However, deliveries of food are still allowed between 10pm and 5am.

This means while customers cannot collect a takeaway after 10pm, they can get it delivered to their home.

Table service only

As well as forcing pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm, Mr Johnson said there will be a restriction on pubs and restaurants to offer table service only, meaning buying drinks at the bar will be banned.

“From Thursday all pubs bars and restaurants should operate table service only except for takeaways,” he said.

Face masks

On 22 September, Mr Johnson has said that customers should now be wearing masks when moving around hospitality businesses, such as walking to their table or visiting the toilet.

The masks should only be removed when eating or drinking and sat at your table).  This rule will come into force from Monday 28 September.

Previously, customers only had to wear a face covering if they were buying food or drink to takeaway, with ministers saying it was impractical to wear them in restaurants and pubs.

This update also applies to staff at hospitality venues, who now should be wearing masks when working.

The penalty for not wearing a face mask has doubled to £200 for a first offence.

Rule of six

As part of what Mr Johnson dubbed “the rule of six”, pubs and restaurants are only allowed to take bookings of up to six people in line with the new rules on socialising. The six people can be from multiple households, however social distancing rules should still be observed.

Hospitality venues can have more than six people inside in total, but customers on individual tables must not exceed that number.

Businesses can be fined up to £10,000 if they take reservations of more than six people.

Track and trace

Pubs and restaurants are legally required to collect details for track and trace.

Previously, businesses did not had to enforce this as it was merely guidance. But now customers will have to give their details to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, otherwise they will be breaking the law.

Venues that fail to ensure their premises adhere to the rules face fines.

UK pub and hospitality bodies state that contact details only need to be taken from one person in a group, that the details must be kept for 21 days and that customers only need to give their name and phone number.

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