Guide for hospitality businesses April 2021

Coronavirus: guide for hospitality businesses

Government guidance

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes must only serve customers who are seated outside.

You can also offer delivery or takeaway services.

Nightclubs must remain closed.

GOV.UK has guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways, including how to keep staff and customers safe. This is the official guidance and is the most up to date and accurate source of information.

We created the following guidance to:

  • clarify some of the government guidance
  • answer common questions from hospitality businesses in Bristol

Serving customers

You can open for outdoor service only. 

The government haven't set a closing time (curfew), but you must comply with the conditions of your licence. 

Customers must only eat or drink while seated at their tables. They're not allowed to drink while standing. If you serve alcohol, you must take their orders from their table.

If you are a licensed premises, customers must not go inside your premises except to:

  • use toilets or baby changing facilities 
  • get to an outdoor area, if it’s not accessible from outside the premise
  • pay for food or drink, if it’s not possible for them to pay at the table 
  • order, pick up or wait for takeaway or click and collect orders, as long as you've done a risk assessment and the process is COVID-secure

If you're an unlicensed premise, customers can also go inside your premises to:

  • make a booking
  • order food or drinks

Licensed premises can decide to stop selling alcohol to allow customers to order food or drinks inside. To show compliance, you must make it clear that alcohol is not available, by:

  • removing alcohol from view or covering it over
  • putting up signs to say alcohol is not available


You can serve alcohol with or without food.

Sales of alcohol will always be subject to licensing hours conditions.

The Business and Planning Act means that premises that were previously only allowed to serve alcohol on the premises can also sell alcohol for people to drink off the premises, until September 2021. You can sell alcohol for people to drink off the premises until 11pm unless your licence says otherwise. 

Takeaway, delivery, and click and collect

You can sell alcohol for takeaway or delivery or offer a click and collect service as long as you follow the rules above. 

You can sell alcohol in sealed or unsealed containers.

Rule of 6 or 2 households

You can allow customers in groups of up to:

  • 6 people
  • 2 households or support bubbles  (also known as 'linked households')

If you’re booking or seating customers in a group of more than 6, you should check they are from no more than 2 households or support bubbles.

GOV.UK has information about when a household can make a support bubble with another household

Wedding receptions or wakes

You can take bookings for wedding receptions or wakes for up 15 people.

GOV.UK has guidance on the safety precautions you must take.

Face coverings

GOV.UK has information on who must wear a face covering and when.

Staff in hospitality businesses must wear face coverings:

  • when serving customers
  • in all areas that are on view to the public

They can wear visors in addition to a face covering, but a visor alone is not acceptable.

Staff don’t have to wear face coverings:

Customers must wear face coverings:

  • any time they’re not seated at a table for food or drink, including when they arrive at or leave the premises, or go to the toilet or smoking area
  • when they enter the premises to collect food or drink for takeaway

Customers don’t have to wear a face covering if they're exempt, for example because of a health condition. You can ask a customer if they’re exempt and ask them to wear a face covering if they’re not. A customer doesn’t have to show proof of their exemption.

NHS Test and Trace

GOV.UK has guidance for NHS Test and Trace in the workplace.

You must display an NHS Test and Trace QR code for customers to scan with the NHS COVID-19 app. You can create a QR code on GOV.UK.

If a customer doesn’t have a mobile phone or the NHS COVID-19 app, you must:

  • collect their contact details in another way
  • keep a record of their details for 21 days

All customers over 16 must provide their contact details. This applies even when customers are sitting outside only. 

You must not allow customers to enter the premises if they don’t give their contact details or check in using the app.

Test and Trace posters

The Public Health England website has posters and explainer documents that you can download, print and put up in your venue, including:

  • the regulations for checking in at venues
  • why customers should check in at venues
  • the new process for notifying visitors of outbreaks at venues

Social distancing and queuing

Groups of customers should:

  • be seated 2 metres apart from other groups, unless you use extra measures to reduce the risk of transmission, such as screens or back to back seating
  • not mix with other groups

You may need to reduce the total number of people you have in your premises' outside space to enable this. 


You must make sure that customers keep 2 metres apart when queuing to enter your premises or while in your premises. You may need to put up signs, put down floor or pavement markings, or use marshalling to manage queues. 

We can provide pavement stickers or signs. Email to ask for these.


You should allow customers to use indoor toilets and baby changing facilities. They should be managed and risk assessed in line with government COVID guidance

Entertainment or live music

You can provide entertainment, such as live or recorded music, in line with the conditions of your licence. 

Customers must be seated during the entertainment. You must make sure that the entertainment or music you provide does not encourage customers to dance or stand.

Your COVID risk assessment must address:

  • the volume of the entertainment or music
  • the chance that people will want to stand and dance 
  • what measures you’ll take to prevent this

Outdoor structures or shelters

You can have outdoor structures at your premises to allow you to trade outside. If you need to use space on the pavement or highway, you must apply for an outdoor hospitality licence.

Any shelters or structures with a roof must be at least 50 per cent open sided to be classed as outdoor space. For example, a completely enclosed gazebo is not permitted, it must be half open to comply.

Marquee with closed sides

This structure is more than 50% enclosed so it is classed as indoors. If you opened half of the side areas, it would be classed as outdoors.

Shed with three enclosed sides and an open front

This structure is classed as indoors because more than 50% of it is enclosed.

Large umbrella

This structure is classed as a outdoors, because it has open sides. Other structures that provide a canopy with open sides would also be classed as outdoors.