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What do the new government restrictions mean for the hospitality industry?

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On Tuesday, 22nd of September, Boris Johnson addressed the nation to announce new measures for the country as COVID rates continue to soar. He called on Britons to “summon the discipline and the resolve” to get through the "unquestionably difficult" winter together as he revealed what these new measures would be. New measures have included earlier closing times for pubs and restaurants, introducing a track and trace app, reductions in the size of group gatherings and events such as weddings, and increased fines for those breaking new restrictions. 

In this article, we take a look at what the new restrictions mean for the hospitality industry. 

New restrictions on operations for businesses serving food and beverages

From Thursday 24 September, businesses selling food and drink, including all pubs, bars, restaurants and licensed cafes, must operate table service only. 

This rule has been introduced as a bid to manage the flow of people in food businesses and to try to prevent groups from mingling in queues and at bars. 

Businesses not complying with the new regulations will face increased fines. For example, fines of £1,000 can be issued if tables are not 2 metres apart, or 1 metre if other measures such as protective screens are in place.

New restrictions on opening hours

Food and beverage serving businesses are now being forced to close between 10 pm and 5 am. These rules also apply to takeaway businesses, although delivery service is still allowed after the 10 pm cut off. 

Mandatory face coverings

Face coverings are now mandatory for hospitality and retail staff as well as any customers moving around inside the premises. 

Customers may take their face coverings off once they are sitting at the table, but will need to wear them whilst queueing, and using the bathrooms. 

New restrictions on group sizes

Fines may be issued to anyone who ignores the government’s rule of six, allowing only six people in one group at any time. Fines to be issued and enforcement action to be taken by police if necessary to limit groups in hospitality venues to six people, to stop different groups mingling and ensure the data of people enjoying an evening out is recorded.

Although weddings have managed to escape the rule of six, they are now only allowed to have a maximum of fifteen people in attendance. 

Funerals are allowed to have up to thirty people in attendance. 

Mandatory track and trace

It is now compulsory for hospitality businesses to comply with track and trace regulations for anyone entering the premises. This means that pubs and restaurants must collect customers details so that they can be contacted in case of an outbreak linked to the business. 

Any business failing to comply with these regulations will be subject to fines imposed by the government. 

How will the government enforce these new regulations?

As much as possible, police are being urged to gain voluntary compliance with businesses and individuals. Local authorities are expected in the first instance to try to get venues suspected of breaking the regulations to comply.

Fixed-penalty notices may be issued by the authorised officer, in the sum of £1,000 on the first occasion (a reduced penalty of £500 being due if paid within 14 days of the notice date), £2,000 on a second occasion, rising to £4,000 for a third and any subsequent occasion.

Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 is expressly applied so that arrest by a police officer may be made without warrant on grounds of maintenance of public health and public order.

We strive to support any business affected by the new restrictions. If you are struggling to maintain operations, speak to us about how a flexible team can help to reduce cash flow problems, increase staff for table-service duties, and allow you to run your business without the headache of searching for new staff. Contact us today.