UKHOSPITALITY: Your May 17 reopening FAQs answered

Woman working at the front desk of a hotel wearing a facemask

After yesterday’s announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that hospitality venues in England will be permitted to reopen indoors from May 17, trade body UKHospitality has updated its guidance for businesses preparing to start trading again.

Q. Will table service be required for food and drink consumed in indoor areas of hospitality? Yes. At premises serving alcohol customers will be required to order, be served and eat/drink whilst seated.

Q. Do customers need to wear face coverings while going to the toilet or entering/walking through the venue, and what are the staff requirements? Yes, face covering regulations mandate the wearing of a covering in hospitality venues for customers and front of house staff. A covering should be worn when moving around venues, including while being taken to be seated and going to the toilet. Face coverings should follow the Government guidance. You must remind customers to wear a face covering whilst moving around the venue. Customers can remove their face covering once seated to consume food and/or drink. If businesses have taken steps to create a physical barrier or screen between workers and members of the public, then staff behind the barrier or screen will not be required to wear a face covering. 14 DCMS has also shared some further advice on face coverings: Face masks vs visors: For sectors that the new regulations apply to, the baseline is face covering. People can then choose to wear a visor on top of that but a visor on its own cannot replace a face covering (i.e. something which securely covers the nose and mouth).

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Q. Will a table/substantial meal have to be served as a condition of serving alcohol? No. Alcohol can be served indoors and outdoors without food. Table service will apply as above.

Q. Who is allowed to meet indoors at my venue at Step 3? A group of up to 6 from mixed households, or two households.

Q. Who is allowed to meet outdoors at my venue at Step 3? Groups of up to 30 from mixed households.

Q. Are stays now allowed in non self-contained premises? A. Yes. Stays are permitted in non self-contained accommodation, such as hotels, B&Bs etc.

Q. Can live music performances take place indoors at Step 3? Yes, subject to certain requirements being met Updated guidance on performances will be published here:

Q. What are the rules around larger scale events? A. Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower. In Step 3, ticketed indoor private dining events such as charity or gala dinners and awards ceremonies, and corporate hospitality, are permitted. COVID-19 guidance for bars, pubs and takeaway services should be followed for these events.

Events organisers must ensure in particular:

• tables are spaced out to ensure 2m social distancing is in place or 1m with barriers between tables

• attendees are in groups of no more than 6 people, or two households, and do not mix with any other groups at the event

• seating is assigned and carefully controlled to ensure attendees do not mix with any other table, including approaching other tables or sitting at different tables

• food and drink is consumed by attendees while they are seated

• attendees wear face coverings whenever not seated at their table.

These events are only permitted at Step 3 where they are organised by a business, charitable organisation, sporting or public body and where they follow all relevant COVID-19 Secure guidance and all legal requirements. Private dining events for social purposes are only permitted within the social contact rules at this step of the roadmap i.e. for groups comprising up to 6 people or two households indoors or up to 30 people outdoors.

Q. Can business meetings continue to be held? Yes. Venues permitted to open at Step 3 can hire out function and event spaces for essential work, education and training meetings. The legal gathering limits do not apply to essential work, education or training meetings. Attendees are not limited to gathering in groups of up to 6 people or 2 households. If venues have multiple, separate meeting facilities, these can be hired out simultaneously for separate meetings if the groups can be kept separate. Government guidance around business meetings can be found in section 2.4 here: Hotels and other guest accommodation – Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance – GOV.UK ( To note a business event is treated differently (such as an organised conference, seminar, product launch etc.) and is subject to the organised event capacity limits and rules in the previous questions above.

Q. Can gaming machines and other games (e.g. pool/snooker) be used? Yes, if customers are wearing face coverings and subject to social distancing, and risk assessed mitigations such as cleaning regimes, avoiding pinch points etc. are in place. Players must be seated if they are consuming food or drinks.

Q. What are the wedding/life event rules? A. At this step, weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes can proceed with up to 30 attendees. A broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted at this step, including bar mitzvahs and christenings. The Government has recently announced that the limit on the number of attendees for funerals in Step 3 will be removed. The only restriction on numbers will be based on the capacity of the venue hosting the funeral.

Government guidance for wedding ceremonies and receptions can be found here:

Further information on wakes and life events is expected to be published in updated Government guidance here:

Q. What are the rules around carveries and buffets? For carvery and buffet options and where alcohol is served, table service is required. If a venue is not serving alcohol, customers can order and collect food from a counter or similar. As in the previous tier system, the regulations allow for carvery service where:

– The customer orders a carvery meal option whilst seated,

– Select elements of their carvery options from the carvery deck (face covering, socially distanced etc.), plated by staff.

– The customer returns to their seat, and is served their meal by staff to their table.

Tags : May 17reopeningrulesUKHospitality
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

1 Comment


    As a keen user of pubs and restaurants, I’m desperate to get back.

    The continued use of masks remains a HUGE turn-off, both as a customer and seeing servers using them.

    I’ve been waiting patiently for the last 12+ months but I’m afraid I’ll not be back in earnest until 100% of the restrictions are removed.

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