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Hospitality/Retail Covid Restrictions: FAQs

by Adam Howarth, Editor
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Hospitality/Retail Covid Restrictions: FAQs

Hospitality/Retail Covid Restrictions: FAQs

This is a list of hospitality and retail Covid restriction FAQs that may help you understand the current rulings a little better.

We’ve divided it into six sections:

  1. No alcohol sales after 10pm.
  2. Table service rules for licensed premises.
  3. Face coverings.
  4. Meetings or gatherings indoors (rule of six, but only from your household or extended household).
  5. Meetings or gatherings outdoors (rule of 30).
  6. The NHS Covid-19 app and how it works with Wales’ existing visitor and customer record-keeping requirements.

1. Alcohol sales not allowed after 10pm

What are the new 10pm restrictions associated with pubs, bars and restaurants with a licence to sell alcohol?

All licensed premises in Wales must stop selling alcohol at 10pm and close (with no members of the public to be on the premises) by 10.20pm. For pubs, bars and restaurants and all other premises serving alcohol, the 20-minute ‘drink up’ time will prevent customers leaving the premises at the same time. It should also provide greater flexibility for restaurants to provide two evening sittings and allow customers to finish their meals. Licensed premises cannot reopen until 6am the following morning.

Will the same restrictions apply to all venues with a licence to sell and serve alcohol on the premises?

Yes, the same restrictions apply to all licensed premises. This extends to businesses such as cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, snooker halls and social clubs with a licence to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises. Cinemas can stay open so that a screening which starts before 10pm can finish, but there is a 10pm curfew on serving alcohol.

What about serving alcohol in hotels and other forms of accommodation with a licence?

Where an accommodation provider has a licence to sell alcohol, they must stop selling alcohol at 10pm. They must also close the part of their premises where customers may consume alcohol (generally the hotel bar) by 10.20pm. The rest of the premises does not need to close and room service can continue after 10pm, but may not include alcohol. These restrictions must remain in place until 6am the next day.

Can wedding receptions, civil partnerships or funeral wakes serve alcohol after 10pm?

Licensed premises hosting wedding receptions, civil partnership receptions and funeral wakes (in accordance with Welsh rules) must stop selling or serving alcohol at 10pm. The premises (or, in the case of a hotel, the part of the premises in which you consume alcohol) must close by 10.20pm.

Do supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores have to stop selling alcoholic drinks in-store after 10pm?

Yes. All off-licences, including supermarkets and convenience stores, can remain open, but have to stop selling alcohol in-store from 10pm. They cannot sell alcohol again until 6am the next day.

Will I be able to have an online order from a supermarket, including alcohol, delivered to my home after 10pm?

You can receive online deliveries from supermarkets and other providers after 10pm. These deliveries must not include alcohol.

Can premises without a licence to serve alcohol remain open beyond 10pm?

Yes, premises serving food and non-alcoholic drinks can remain open beyond 10pm. This includes cafes, coffee-houses, fast-food restaurants and takeaways without a licence for selling alcohol.

Can pubs and restaurants with a licence to serve alcohol provide “takeaway” deliveries beyond 10pm?

Takeaway delivery services and restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes offering takeaway services can continue to provide these services beyond 10pm. However, food takeaway deliveries cannot include any alcohol beyond 10pm. Customers cannot collect their orders directly from these premises after 10.20pm.

Can licensed premises at ports and airports remain open after 10pm?

Yes, licensed premises serving food and drink at ports and airports can remain open after 10pm. These premises must not serve alcohol after that time.

Are all areas of Wales receiving these blanket restrictions?

Yes, these restrictions apply to all areas of Wales, including local lockdown areas. However, there may be additional local restrictions which you should consider alongside this guidance. Click here for more information.

2. Table service rules for licensed premises

What are the new “table-service” rules for licensed premises?

The table-service restrictions mean premises with a licence to serve alcohol can only serve customers when they are sitting down, generally at a table. Customers must also order, consume and pay for the food and drink at that table. This is regardless of whether they are consuming alcohol as part of their visit. The government encourages businesses to use smartphone apps for customers to order and pay for food. Using these apps will minimise contact between staff and customers.

Can I still stand at the bar of a pub or bar and have a drink?

All hospitality businesses in Wales with a licence to sell alcohol must serve food and drink to people who are sitting at a table and they must consume it while sitting. Sitting at the bar is not allowed.

Are there any exemptions for licensed premises? What about buffet-service for example?

Where a restaurant is operating a buffet service, service of the food can be as if was being served at a table. The customer should go to the table on arrival and should pay for their meal at their table. However, the customer can select food from the buffet if they are wearing a face covering to approach the buffet and they have used hand sanitiser.

Customers visiting the buffet should also maintain a distance of two metres from other customers (except between two members of the same household, extended household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer). Customers should not serve themselves from the buffet as a member of staff should do this.

What about “self-service” type canteens in workplaces or education establishments?

There is also an exception for any workplace canteens, including canteens in educational establishments such as universities operating buffets and that have a licence to sell alcohol. You must, however, consume the food or drink sitting down and the premises should not serve alcohol after 10pm and must close at 10.20pm.

How do the table service rules affect activity-led venues with a licence to serve alcohol?

Activity-led venues with licences to sell alcohol, such as bingo halls, snooker halls and bowling alleys, should ensure customers order, receive and pay for food and drink at the table.

Other related activities such as selling bingo tickets, should where possible happen at the table to minimise contact with other customers. The activities themselves, such as bowling or playing snooker, can take place away from the table. Customers must not carry out these activities with anyone they don’t live with.

Does the new table-service-only guidance for licensed premises also apply to establishments that do not sell alcohol, for example coffee-house chains?

No, table-service restrictions do not apply to establishments that do not sell alcohol. However, customers should maintain social distancing of two metres while queueing at a counter to place their order. They should consume food and drink at the table if eating on the premises.

3. Face coverings

Are hospitality premises exempt from the rule on face-coverings in indoor public places?

No. Face-coverings are mandatory in all indoor public spaces open to members of the public (applies to all staff and customers aged 11 and over) unless you have a reasonable excuse not to wear one. Read more here.

For hospitality premises, customers entering and leaving restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes and walking around these premises, and staff working at these premises must now also wear a face covering. Customers can remove face coverings when sitting at a table to eat or drink.

Do I need to wear a face-covering if I am collecting a takeaway?

Yes, you do need to wear a face-covering if you are buying and collecting food from a takeaway or the takeaway area of a restaurant.

Can I wear a visor instead of a face-covering?

In the context of the requirements imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a visor or face shield is not a face covering. It is made of waterproof material, fits loosely over the eyes and extends down such that it may lie over but not cover the nose and mouth. It cannot fit snugly around the nose and mouth as it could impair breathing and may fog.

The effectiveness of visors and face shields is unknown at present. They are worn in clinical/caregiving settings to protect against large droplet exposure, including by inoculation through the eyes. When worn outside these settings, there is no evidence that face shields/visors protect the wearer or are an effective source control for larger droplets or small aerosols.

While some people have difficulty making themselves heard when wearing other types of face covering, visors protect the eyes from airborne droplets and you should not wear them without a face mask.

4. Meetings or gatherings indoors

Please note that extended households are no longer legal under lockdown regulations starting 1st October.
How many people can sit together indoors at the same table within a café, bar, pub or restaurants?

Meetings or gatherings indoors within hospitality venues must be a maximum of six people at any one time (not including any children aged under 11). These meeting must only include members of your household.

Where a (single) household is made up of more than six people aged 11 or over, there are no restrictions on the members of that household being together in indoor public spaces like pubs or restaurants. There is also no limit on the number of children aged under 11 who can be part of a gathering indoors.

More guidance is available by clicking on this link.

Are there any restrictions on the number of people who can gather together inside a hospitality venue if they are attending a wedding reception, a civil partnership or a funeral wake?

Wedding receptions and funeral wakes remain at 30 people indoors maintaining social distancing at two metres and wearing face coverings.

What reasonable measures should I take as a hospitality business to ensure that customers are complying with the new rules?

You should review any bookings taken prior to the change in Welsh law on the ‘rule of six’ which came into effect on 14th September. Where any bookings have been made that do not comply with the single household rule, a rebooking that complies with the new rules should be taken, a postponement agreed or cancellation made.

You should take all reasonable measures to ensure that individual bookings you take are limited to people from the same household.

What if it is not commercially viable for my business to operate by maintaining the two-metre distancing rule between tables?

If it is not commercially viable for you to include enough tables in your premises at a distance of two metres apart, you may place the tables more closely together. You can do this as long as mitigating actions are taken to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. This might include installing physical barriers such as protective screens between tables. You should ensure that you can wash and clean these screens effectively or introduce back-to-back or side-to-side seating (rather than face-to-face).

Click here for more details.

5. Meetings or gatherings outdoors (rule of 30)

How many customers can gather outdoors at hospitality premises to eat or drink?

Individual gatherings/groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors and include a mix of households (not limited to the same/extended household). However, social distancing of two metres is mandatory between customers if they are not part of the same household.

Does the rule of 30 apply to the total space or an individual group?

The rule of 30 applies to individual groups or gatherings and not the total capacity for a hospitality business in an outdoor setting. This setting can be larger if space allows and you can maintain social distancing. You should base any such decision on your business having conducted a risk assessment to determine if the capacity adheres to social-distancing measures.

What if it is not commercially viable to maintain the two-metre distancing rule between a group or gathering who are not all part of the same extended household?

If it is not commercially viable for you to include enough tables outside at a distance of two metres apart to accommodate the whole party, you may place the tables more closely together as long as you take measures to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. This might include installing physical barriers such as protective screens between tables that you can wash and clean effectively or ensuring back-to-back or side-to-side seating is available (rather than face-to-face).

 Can customers gather under physical coverings outside to protect them from the weather?

Physical coverings such as awnings, gazebos or marquees should be open-sided (at least three or four sides) if you are going to treat them as an external environment. If they are closed on all sides, they are an internal environment and the rules on indoor gatherings apply.

6. The NHS Covid-19 app and how it works with Wales’ existing visitor and customer record-keeping requirements

Is it essential that I continue to keep records of staff, visitors and customers if I sign up to the new NHS Covid-19 app?

Keeping records of staff, customers and visitors remains compulsory for hospitality businesses in Wales. You should continue to employ your own record-keeping system. This system should be manual/paper, digital or QR code systems to support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. Further details are available here.

This compulsory guidance still applies regardless of where you sign up to the new NHS Covid-19 app and display the new QR poster. This is also regardless of how many posters you put up for your customers and whether they choose to check in to your venue using this new app.

How will the new NHS Covid-19 App complement my existing record-keeping systems?

The new app complements the existing mandatory arrangements on keeping records of staff, customers and visitors by providing your customers with the fastest way to see if they are at risk from coronavirus. The new NHS Covid-19 app does not substitute this guidance and it is not mandatory. The app works in exactly the same way in England and Wales. The more people who use it, the more it will help to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Further information is available here.

Is it essential that my business signs up to the new NHS Covid-19 App?

The government encourages hospitality businesses to register for the app and display the QR code poster in their venue to enable customers to use the check-in function. The app and poster will help keep track of where they have been. This is not mandatory in Wales, however.

We hope you found our Hospitality/Retail Covid Restrictions: FAQs useful. More important information on how the coronavirus restrictions are affecting NE Wales is available on our website here.

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