Full list of new restaurant and pub rules – from contact tracing to rule of six

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From Monday, May 17, pubs and restaurants in England can serve customers inside.

The hospitality industry closed its doors when the latest lockdown started in January 2021, and opened for al fresco dining on April 12.

Today sees the country enter Step Three of the government's roadmap out of lockdown, which means customers can dine inside.

However, there are still a number of rules and restrictions in place that visitors are expected to follow.

So what are the new rules? Here is everything you need to know before visiting pubs and restaurants, from new rules to security measures.

New rules at restaurants and pubs

Who can I go to the pub or a restaurant with?

There is a limit to how many people you can dine or drink indoors with.

The rule of six, which means you can go to the pub or a restaurant in a group of six people from different household.

The only exemption to this rule is if you are from two households. Children of all ages count towards the limit.

Is there a curfew, and do you have to have a substantial meal with alcohol?

In England's second national lockdown there was a 10pm curfew in place, and the "substantial" meal rule prevented customers from drinking alcohol without eating.

But this time there will be no need for alcohol to be accompanied by a "substantial meal".

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Can I dance?

Nightclubs remain closed, but bars can still be open. However, you have to be seated in order to be served.

Suraj Desor, specialist hospitality licensing solicitor at Poppleston Allen, explained further: "Guidance currently advises that operators should maintain social distancing when providing entertainment and prevent entertainment that is likely to increase transmission risk, including communal dancing.

"Ultimately it is at the discretion of the venue operator to decide and make a judgment call on whether allowing customers to dance is within the spirit of the guidance and whether social distancing can be maintained to avoid mixing of groups."

Can pubs host live music?

Yes, live music events can go ahead from May 17, but there are certain restrictions in place.

Suraj said: "Guidance does not prohibit live music events, but it does determine that dedicated music events should be ticketed and held in a separate room from regular food and drink customers to prevent mixing."

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Can I order at the bar?

Unfortunately, you can't order at the bar. Pubs and restaurants must provide table service only. That means customers will need to order, eat and drink while seated.

But, as Suraj pointed out: "As long as customers are seated, they can be served in any area of the premises".

That means that if someone is sat at the bar, they can order there.

However, he added: "Due to a venue’s responsibilities towards their staff however you may find that sitting at the bar is not currently allowed at a particular premises, based upon their assessment of the risks."

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Yes, rules around face masks have not changed. Customers are expected to wear these unless they are sitting down.

That means you will have to wear a face covering when you enter a venue, if you go to the toilet, and when you're leaving.

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Do I need to provide contact details?

Previously, only one person from each group needed to provide contact details.

However, now every individual person over the age of 16 has to check in on the NHS app, or leave their contact details for test and trace. This rule has been in place since outdoor service resumed on April 12.

Have the rules changed for beer gardens?

Yes, up to 30 people can gather outdoors, up from just six.

This rule will be in place in beer gardens too, which means you can be in a group of up to 30 people.

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What other rules are in place?

Venues are only allowed to open if they are Covid-secure, which means you'll find measures to keep staff and customers safe.

That means everything from one-way systems to perspex screens between tables, which will need to be spaced out.

According to Suraj, a venue can "remove or refuse entry to customers who are not complying with social distancing or refuse to provide NHS Test and Trace contact details".

For a full list of everything you can and can't do from today, check out our handy guide.

  • Pubs
  • Lockdown

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