Covid-19: restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaways

Most restaurants, pubs and bars must close during the current national restrictions except for certain takeaway services. The guidance below may still be relevant when these businesses are permitted to open again. If you would like any help in checking your procedures in the meantime please email

Please check what you can and cannot do during the current lockdown on the Government website.

The following is a summary of the Government's covid-secure guidance for Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Takeaways. Please refer to the full guidance when considering your risk assessment and the controls you will need to put in place.

Think about risk

COVID-19 is a public health emergency. Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19, and in particular businesses should consider the risks to their workers and customers. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.

The Health and Safety Executive has guidance for business on how to manage risk and risk assessment at work along with specific advice to help control the risk of coronavirus in workplaces.

In the context of COVID-19 this means working through these steps in order:

  1. Ensuring both workers and customers who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the venue.
  2. Increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning in every workplace.
  3. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessments).
  4. Further mitigating actions include:
    – further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
    – keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
    – using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
    – using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
    – reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)
  5. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate.
  6. Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

In your assessment, you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and the results of your risk assessment should be shared with your staff.

Keeping Customers Safe

  1. Calculate the maximum number of customers inside the premises that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines. 
  2. Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace - GOV.UK You must register for an official NHS QR code and display the official NHS QR poster.  You do not have to ask people who choose to ‘check in’ using the official NHS QR code to provide their contact details. However you must keep a temporary record of your customers and visitors who do not use the QR code to help NHS Test and Trace manage any local infections. Keep a record of staff shifts and the name and telephone number of each visitor, or group leader, together with the date, arrival time and, where possible, departure time. Keep these records securely for 21 days and do not use it for any other purpose (such as marketing) without the person's permission.
  3. Keep groups apart. Space out tables, consider using barriers between groups, and manage the number of customers in the venue. This is required by law. Manage the number of customers in the venue.
  4. Provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene on arrival along with expected customer behaviour to keep everyone safe
  5. Manage entry and exit of customers, and the number of customers at a venue should be managed, so that all indoor customers are seated with appropriate distancing, for example, through reservation systems, social distancing markings. Ensure all customers remain seated and only serve alcohol with a substantial meal. Prevent social contact by ensuring customers sit down to eat and drink at the venue. This is required by law.
  6. Let customers know that by law they can only sit inside as a single household or support bubble (groups of up to 6 people may sit outside ). Check with customers on arrival who they are with and how many people will be attending. Put up signs to remind customers to only interact with their group. Businesses could be fined for allowing customers to socialise in groups larger than 6.
  7. Arrange for queue management procedures to be put together and implemented
  8. Ensure staff wear face coverings. By law, staff in hospitality settings must wear face coverings when in customer facing areas, unless they have an exemption.
  9. Encourage customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue. Customers must wear a face covering except when eating or drinking.
  10. Look at how people move through the venue and how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers, for example, one-way flow, where possible.
  11. Last orders for alcohol is 10pm and businesses must close between 11pm and 5am. This is required by law. Delivery services can continue after 10pm

Managing service of food and drink at a venue

In order to ensure staff and customers can order food and drink safely you should:

  1. Maintain social distancing between employees from customers when taking and receiving orders.
  2. Encourage use of contactless ordering from tables where available. For example, through an ordering app
  3. Use social distance markings to remind customers to maintain social distancing between customers and employees
  4. Minimise customer self-service of food, cutlery and condiments to reduce risk of transmission. If you sell alcohol it must be with a substantial meal and no further alcoholic drinks may be served after the meal has finished. Provide table service only. Take orders and payments from seated customers, instead of at a bar or counter. This is required by law.
  5. Reduce the number of surfaces touched by both staff and customers.
  6. Encourage contactless payments where possible
  7. Manage food and drink service safely. Avoid situations where customers need to collect their own cutlery and condiments. Avoid contact between staff and customers.
  8. Ensure all areas have sufficient ventilation.
  9. Prevent customers from congregating at points of service. For example, having only staff collect and return empty glasses to the bar.

Live Performances

Lower music and other background noise. Prevent shouting, singing and dancing in the venue by making sure music and broadcasts are played at a low volume. Refrain from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage  communal dancing, group singing or chanting.

Customer toilets

Toilets should be kept open and to you should ensure & promote good hygiene, social distancing, and cleanliness in toilet facilities.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using signs and posters to encourage good handwashing techniques, the need to increase handwashing frequency and to avoid touching your face, and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
  2. Adoption of a limited entry approach, with 1 in, 1 out system.
  3. Hand sanitiser should be available on entry to toilets and you should ensure suitable handwashing and drying facilities including running water and liquid soap and paper towels are available.
  4. Increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage.
  5. Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open.
  6. Putting up a visible cleaning schedule can keep it up to date and visible.
  7. Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

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