What does the new Three-Tier Covid-19 restrictions mean for my business?
As we find ourselves in the second wave of Covid-19, the UK government has outlined a new local covid-19 tier system in the hopes of controlling the virus from spreading further. However, many hospitality businesses are asking for further clarification on the rules and how they will be affected. We’ve outlined our recommendations from what we understand from the guidelines and health & safety best practice to ensure you are operating legally and safely.
When the guidelines state that you’re not allowed to mix with other households indoors, does this also include within restaurants and spas?
In tier 3 – venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors or in most public outdoor venues with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with). This includes in:
- Pubs and restaurants, where they are permitted to open
- Leisure and entertainment venues
- Places of worship
Clarification is being sought about the intermingling of households in tier 1 and 2. We’ll update this as soon as it’s been made clear.
Are businesses legally bound to ensure that people coming into their premises are from one household/bubble? If so, how do you check this? What would be deemed as a sufficient level of checking so that a business is not breaching Covid-19 rules?
This is a tricky one to answer. The guidance says:
- Businesses and venues must ensure people do not meet in their premises with people from outside of their household or support bubble.
- Businesses and venues that fail to comply with these restrictions may face fines of up to £10,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure.
So yes it is a legal requirement for the businesses and they can be fined for it, but there is no guidance on how they should check this. Some things you could do to ensure you’ve provided checks are:
- Add a checkbox confirmation to any online bookings forms, asking for customers to confirm that their party is all from the same household or support bubble.
- Provide a disclaimer on your emails, website and at your venue that states that as per government guidelines it is against the law for different households to mix on your premises and therefore must be seated on different tables.
- If you are certain a booking is from different households you could respectfully ask that they sit at different tables; if you have the space available. Reminding guests that you could be fined for up to £10,000 may help with this request.
After 10pm do you have to provide a delivery service or can customers collect items?
Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru. Hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm, but must not serve alcohol after that time
Do restaurants also have to close if you are in a tier 3 location?
In very high alert level areas, as a baseline, pubs and bars will be closed unless they are serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. Additional restrictions may apply depending on discussions between central and local government.
If my pub also operates as a restaurant, can I still open but close the bar area?
Pubs and bars must close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
Do customers have to wear a face-mask in my leisure centre and while using gym equipment now?
The use of face coverings does not extend to customers using gyms, leisure centres and other sport facilities, however when not engaging in sport and physical activity visitors should be encouraged to wear masks in enclosed public areas where possible and practical. Staff in close contact services are required to wear a mask and a visor when providing services. All forms of face coverings may restrict breathing efficiency and should not be used during exercise except on specific advice from a physician.
Overview of alert levels
UK Hospitality have provided a useful overview of the alert levels below:
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium – This will consist of the current national measures, which came into force on 25 September. For areas where national restrictions continue to be in place, this means:
- All businesses and venues can continue to operate in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
- Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.
- Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.
- Schools, universities and places of worship remain open.
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees.
- Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed.
Local COVID Alert Level – High – This is for areas with a higher level of infections. This means the following additional measures will be in place:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
- People must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
Local COVID Alert Level – Very High – This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The Government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures. The baseline means the below additional measures will be in place:
- Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
- Wedding receptions are not allowed.
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.