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The official Covid secure guidance for pubs, bars, restaurants etc. includes advice on managing capacities and crowding in your venue. 

Limits on crowds and capacities

You have to make sure that you comply with law and Government restrictions when admitting customers in to your venue. 

At the time of writing (30 June 2020), the restrictions that apply are: 

  1. Indoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (including support bubbles); and
  2. Outdoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households.

The Government has confirmed that the legal limit on mass gatherings of 30 people do not apply to pubs. 

What you can do

The Government advice states that licensed premises must implement the following steps: 

  1. At this time, venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience.
  2. Individual businesses or venues should consider the cumulative impact of many venues re-opening in a small area.
  3. Further lowering capacity – even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people inside a venue, it may not be safe for them all to travel or enter that venue, calculating the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) at the venue.
  4. Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.
  5. Reconfiguring indoor and outdoor seating and tables to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) between customers of different householdsor support bubbles. For example, increasing the distance between tables.
  6. Working with your local authority or landlord to take into account the impact of your processes, including queues, on public spaces such as high streets and public car parks.
  7. Working with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to provide additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks, where possible, to help customers avoid using public transport.
  8. Reducing the need for customers to queue, but where this is unavoidable, discouraging customers from queueing indoors and using outside spaces for queueing where available and safe. For example, using some car parks and existing outdoor services areas.
  9. Providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email.
  10. Managing the entry of customers, and the number of customers at a venue, so that all indoor customers are seated with appropriate distancing, and those outdoors have appropriately spaced seating or standing room. This is to ensure that the venue, including areas of congestion does not become overcrowded. Managing entry numbers can be done, for example, through reservation systems, social distancing markings, having customers queue at a safe distance for toilets or bringing payment machines to customers, where possible.
  11. Managing outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals, other businesses or additional security risks, for example by introducing queuing systems, having staff direct customers and protecting queues from traffic by routing them behind permanent physical structures such as street furniture, bike racks, bollards or putting up barriers.
  12. Making customers aware of, and encouraging compliance with, limits on gatherings. For example, on arrival or at booking. Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households.

 

Enforcement

It is important that you open you licensed venue in a way that is safe for both your staff and customers.  Bear in mind that local authorities have the power to issue prohibition notices that might result in a closure of your licensed venue.

In addition, there are a wide range of licensing powers that might be called on including revised summary review powers proposed under the Business and Planning Bill.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in alcohol and entertainment licensing law, appeals and defence.

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