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Reopening April 12? UKHospitality answers your FAQs

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UKHospitality has answered your Frequently Asked Questions about reopening you outdoor space on April 12, and the do’s and don’t of service.

Q. Can I allow customers into the indoor elements of my venue, for reasons connected with their use of the outside space?

Yes, indoor toilets, baby changing rooms or breast feeding rooms are allowed to be used by customers. However, the updated workplace guidance for pubs, bars and restaurants states that for outdoor areas – “Table service for ordering, service and payment must be used in venues which sell alcohol.” (Section 2.3.2)

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Q. Will table service be required for food and drink consumed in outdoor areas of hospitality?

Yes. At premises serving alcohol, customers will be required to order, be served and eat/drink whilst seated. You must ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that customers remain seated outdoors whilst consuming food and drink. Indoor payment will be allowed where card payment cannot be processed at table.

Q. Who is allowed to meet outdoors? A group of up to 6 from mixed households, or two households.

Q. What entertainment can I offer outside?

Background music and TV screenings (e.g. sport) will be allowed outside, provided volume is kept low. Live music performances – Government advice is that performance events are restricted to specific types of venue and drive-in only, so won’t be allowed at hospitality venues under Step 2.

Q. Can takeaway alcohol be served?

Yes, Government has confirmed that takeaway alcohol can be provided from Step 2 Further guidelines are expected on the detail. However, our current interpretation is that you will need to differentiate between sales of alcohol that will genuinely be taken away from the premises, and alcohol that will be consumed in the outdoor area. If it is the latter, then the table service rules apply.

Q. What are the Test and Trace requirements?

As before, Test and Trace details must be taken for customers eating and drinking seated at the premises – this includes outdoor areas. Customers for takeaway only are exempt. NOTE: A new requirement has been included in the new legislation, advice here from Government: – “one person can no longer be nominated as a party lead and to give their contact details on behalf of the rest of the group. A party of four, for example, can either all check in with the NHS app via the QR code or any of them who do not would be required to give their details to the venue. This is for people aged 16 and over.”  

Q. Do staff have to wear face coverings when serving in outside areas?

No. Previous and current reading of the law has been that, for employees and customers, face coverings only apply to indoor areas of the premises (exception being if an employee is behind a screen or similar inside). Practically of course, for example if staff have picked up a tray of drinks/food inside (where a covering is required) to deliver to an outdoor table (where a covering is not required) they will likely keep the covering on for practical reasons.  

Q. What is the definition of “outdoor”, for the purposes of shelters/pods/igloos that I may have?

The definition of an indoor area is as set out in the Smoking Ban regulations, namely: (4) A place is indoors if it would be considered to be enclosed, or substantially enclosed, for the purposes of section 2 of the Health Act 2006(37), under the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006(38). Therefore, a marquee or any similar structure must not be wholly enclosed, or substantially enclosed to be ‘outdoors’. In practice this means it must not have sides (including doors, windows or other fittings that can be opened or shut) that enclose more than 50% of the shelter, if you want to use it as an outdoor space. Basically, if a marquee is a square but two of the sides are open to the air – then it can be used as an outside space. If the same marquee has three or four sides enclosing it – it counts as an indoor space.

Q. What does the recent announcement on outdoor opening mean?

The trade received positive news from MHCLG Minister Robert Jenrick MP recently (5 March). He has written to local authorities asking them to prioritise the below, which should be useful for operators to flag if they are facing difficulties locally: “Therefore, unless there are very good reasons, we would expect licences granted under these provisions to continue to apply into this summer so that businesses do not have to reapply or be charged a further application fee when they are able to re-open to serve customers outdoors. These temporary provisions are currently due to expire on 30 September 2021, but to give further certainty to businesses I will be introducing secondary legislation to extend these provisions for a further 12 months. Given the continuing importance of the outdoors to reduce transmission of the virus, I strongly encourage (Local Authorities) to plan for outdoor dining and make all necessary changes to local high streets, squares and the public realm so this is as convenient as possible for businesses and members of the public.”

Q: What is the easiest way to open up outdoor areas from 12 April?

If you wish to use outdoor areas (for example a pavement area or car park you don’t normally use), ensure you have the relevant permissions. The easiest and cheapest option to use for 12 April is the fast track pavement licensing system. Your local authority will have details as to how this can be applied for. Do not confuse this with previous (pre-summer 2020) outdoor area licensing processes – the new version is designed to allow you to use outdoor spaces in a much more cost-effective and faster way.

Q: What furniture can be permitted by such a licence?

Counters or stalls for selling or serving food or drink; tables, counters or shelves on which food or drink can be placed; chairs, benches or other forms of seating; and umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other articles used in connection with the outdoor consumption of food or drink. This furniture is required to be removable. Local authorities should be pragmatic when determining what is ‘removable’ but in principle this means it is not a permanent fixed structure, and is able to be moved easily, and stored away of an evening.

For more advice and help, visit UKHospitality’s website HERE

Tags : FAQsoutdoorreopeningUKHospitality
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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