Reopening licensed premises
Reopening licensed premises – 4 July 2020 - Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions)(No.2)(England) Regulations 2020
Our priority during the coronavirus pandemic is to protect the health and safety of the public and to save lives. With that in mind, we've welcomed the government’s phased approach to reopening of businesses, and we're reviewing our guidance and plans for the coming months. However, we're urging significant caution when it comes to licensed premises.
We've delivered the necessary services to support licensed businesses, and continue to do so. We're keeping these under review in line with the government’s advice as the response to the coronavirus develops.
From 4 July 2020, the original regulations were amended to allow pubs, bars, restaurants and licensed clubs all to reopen.
All premises must complete a risk assessment before opening. This isn't optional, and is a requirement of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Although the government's guidance isn't law, you need to operate safely, or you could be prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act and risk a premises license review.
If you need assistance with the risk assessment the government has provided guidance.
Only premises with off-sales on their licence are currently permitted to allow customers to consume alcohol off the premises.
The government is introducing temporary measures through the Business and Planning Bill to support businesses selling food and drink through economic recovery. Until introduced, only remises with ‘off-sales’ permitted on their licence and no restrictions (please check Annexes 2 and 3 of the licence) can supply alcohol to the public for consumption off those premises.
The new law is proposing to disapply conditions that restrict off-sales on certain premises as well, but this isn't due to come into force until at least the end of July 2020. Please check your licence to make sure you're permitted to allow off sales at this time.
Capacities and gatherings
There's no specific maximum capacity or gatherings allowed at pubs, bars, restaurants and licensed clubs in the regulations. The capacity should be based on the number of people you can safely accommodate whilst maintaining the measures set out in the guidance, and in your own risk assessment and plan. This includes security staff.
You may have conditions on the licence to stipulate the number of SIA staff you're required to have, but it may be that you don’t have any, or need more than the licence requires. They will be able to assist with capacities and gatherings, and manage customers' behaviour.
You need to consider the profiles of each group in your premises. Additional furniture (tables, chairs, queuing barriers etc) will all diminish your floor capacity and will require you to revise your fire risk assessment.
The guidance advises that you shouldn't allow people to:
- Gather indoors in groups of more than two households (a support bubble counts as one household) - this includes when dining out or going to the pub.
- Gather outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households; gatherings larger than six should only take place if everyone is from just two households.
- Interact socially with anyone outside the group they are attending a place with, even if they see other people they know.
- Parties and celebrations where attendees are from more than two households should be avoided.
It's recommended that a table booking system is used followed by the premises giving advice on customers' arrival at the premises. Table service should then be offered, and customers inside should remain seated, with no open spaces, including dance floors, provided, so that customers don’t meet other customers and staff.
Outside areas and queues
It's the licence holder’s responsibility to manage outside areas and queues that form outside your premises, to ensure that customers are maintaining social distancing. The outside areas and queues need to be managed by staff to prevent undermining the public safety and public nuisance elements of the licence.
The regulations stipulate at Schedule 2 that nightclubs and other venues are to remain closed if they open at night, have a dance floor or similar space for dancing and provide music, whether live or recorded, for dancing.
The guidance then also stipulates that venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy or music, to take place in front of a live audience. This includes entertainment such as acoustic music, DJs, lap dancing etc.
All venues are required to take steps to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other, which includes, but isn't limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult, loud background music, communal dancing, group singing or chanting.
Premises need to risk assess the showing of football matches, or other live sport, on your TVs. How will you control your customers and stop them from shouting, cheering or celebrating? This may be more specific than just 'football’ as other sports may have additional risks.
The government is also discouraging indoor sports such as snooker, pool, darts, and potentially the use of gaming machines due to the requirement that all customers should remain seated, and due to the communal nature of the activity, the need to sanitise between uses etc.
This document has been produced to assist premises only. Please read the regulations and complete your risk assessment (links provided above). If you need further assistance with The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions)(No.2)(England) Regulations 2020 or government guidance take a look at our ‘reopening your business’ guidance.
Please contact the Licensing team – firstname.lastname@example.org for any further assistance with your licence.