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Summary of Covid-19 Related Business Obligations and Restrictions in England

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Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to keep this page up to date, Regulations change frequently.  Businesses must seek legal advice and consult Government advice prior to making any decisions on the relevance and impact of the restrictions on business.

“Medium” alert level

Covers most of the country, and will consist of the current national measures.

Regulations

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium) (England) Regulations 2020

  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

Quick Reference Guide

“High” alert level

Reflects the interventions in many local areas at the moment.  

Regulations

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020

  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

 

Quick Reference Guide

“Very high” alert level

Applies where transmission rates are rising most rapidly. In these areas the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens and, closing pubs and bars. Retail, schools and universities will remain open. 

Regulations

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020

  • pubs and bars must close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.

Quick Reference Guide

Business closure

Certain business continue to be subject to closure under the Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations.  These are:

  • Nightclubs
  • Dance halls, discotheques etc.
  • Sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars

Businesses not complying with these requirements might be subject to prohibition notices, fixed penalty notices, criminal proceedings. In addition, there is a broad power to take such action as is necessary to enforce any requirement’

The official Government guidance: www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england

Restrictions on opening hours

The Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations, as amended by The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) (Amendment) (No.5) Regulations 2020 restricts trading hours for certain businesses to 22.00 and 05.00 other than:

  • delivery and drive-thru service of takeaway food or drink;
  • In the case of a cinema, theatre or concert hall, concluding a performance that began before 22.00; or
  • At a motorway service area.

Businesses that must close between 22.00 and 05.00 are:

  • Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, social clubs and casinos
  • Businesses providing takeaway food or drink, other than supermarkets, convenience stores, corner shops, newsagents, pharmacist and chemists, petrol stations
  • Bowling alleys, cinemas, theatres, bingo halls and concert halls
  • Amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities (this does not include gyms or fitness studios)
  • Funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks and adventure parks and activities

The requirement does not apply to:

  • Cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school;
  • Canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence;
  • Services providing food or drink to the homeless.

Workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food.

Businesses not complying with these requirements might be subject to prohibition notices, fixed penalty notices, criminal proceedings. In addition, there is a broad power to take such action as is necessary to enforce any requirement’.

The official Government guidance: www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england

Restrictions on service of food and drink for consumption on the premises

Under the Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations, as amended by The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) (Amendment) (No.5) Regulations 2020, a business that serves alcohol for consumption on the premises (both indoor and outdoor), food and drink may be sold for consumption on the premises only if:

  • The food and drink is ordered by and served to a customer who is seated on the premises; and
  • The business must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the customer remains seated while consuming the food or drink on the premises.

Note that there is not requirement to surrender your premises licence.  It is acceptable for an alcohol licences venue to discontinued the sale of alcohol in order to avoid being subject to these requirements.

If you do not sell alcohol for consumption on the, you can sell food and drink for consumption on the premises only if:

  • the business takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the customer remains seated while consuming the food or drink on the premises.

 Businesses not complying with these requirements might be subject to prohibition notices, fixed penalty notices, criminal proceedings. In addition, there is a broad power to ‘take such action as is necessary to enforce any requirement’.

The official Government guidance: www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england

Rule of 6 and social distancing

Under the Obligations of Undertakings Regulations for hospitality premises and to all places where track and trace requirements apply, the person who occupies or operates the “relevant premises” must take all reasonable measures to ensure that:

  • no bookings are accepted for a group of more than six unless exempt;
  • no persons are admitted to the premises in a group of more than six, unless exempt; and
  • there is no mingling between groups other than where unless exempt.

Hospitality premises and to all places where track and trace requirements apply (“relevant premises”) include

  • Restaurants, cafes (including workplace canteens), bars (including bars in hotels and members clubs) pubs and other businesses that provide food or drink for consumption on the premises or in seating made available adjacent to the premises  
  • Leisure and tourism services, including hotels and other guest accommodation, museums, heritage locations, art fairs, cinemas, gyms & other indoor sport and leisure centres, sports clubs (team sporting activities), sports stadia, outdoor pools, betting and bingo halls, casinos, and amusement arcades, libraries and music studios open for hire, etc
  • Close physical contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians (including wellness treatments), tailors, nail bars, piercing services, tattooists, etc
  • Services provided for social cultural and recreational purposes at community centres, youth centres and village halls

Requirements in relation to social distancing

Under the same (Obligations of Undertakings) Regulations a person responsible for carrying on a business of a restaurant, cafe, pub or other business that provides food or drink for consumption on its premises must: 

  • take all reasonable measures to ensure that an appropriate distance is maintained between tables occupied by persons who are not in the same qualifying group.

And/Or

a person responsible for carrying on a business of a public house, café, restaurant or bar (including a bar in a hotel or members’ club) is required to: 

  • take all reasonable measures to stop singing on the premises by customers in groups of more than six persons unless exempt;
  • take all reasonable measures to stop dancing on the premises by customers (other than newlyweds celebrating their wedding or civil partnership at their reception);
  • ensure that no music (other than live music) is played on the premises which exceeds 85db(A) when measured at the source.

Businesses not complying with these requirements might be subject to fixed penalty notices and criminal proceedings.

Face coverings

Under the Obligations of Undertakings Regulations, a person responsible for carrying on a business in a place where face coverings are required to be worn by law must:

  • Must display a notice in a conspicuous location in the area in which face coverings must be worn advising of the requirements of the Face Coverings Regulations, or take other measures to inform a person entering a relevant area without a face covering of those requirements; and
  • Must not prevent or seek to prevent any relevant person (defined as a person required to wear a face covering by regulation 3(1) of the Face Coverings Regulations) from wearing a face covering while present in a relevant area.

Businesses not complying with these requirements might be subject to fixed penalty notices and criminal proceedings.

Note however that the statutory regulations applying to face coverings place no other obligation on businesses (other than that specified above).  Responsibility to wear face coverings impose obligations on individuals, unless they are exempt.

On this page:

  • “Medium” alert level
  • “High” alert level
  • “Very High” alert level

 

  • Business closure
  • Restrictions on opening hours
  • Restrictions on service of food and drink for consumption on the premises
  • Rule of 6 and social distancing
  • Requirements in relation to social distancing
  • Face coverings