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Covid-19 Reopening of premises

The aim of this guidance is to provide detail and clarity for local businesses following the recently published government guidelines.

It is intended to offer support to venues re-opening after the recent Covid-19 lockdown and includes essential information which should be followed.  It has been put together in consultation with the local authority, police, Pubwatch, Best Bar None and local licensees.

You must refer to and use the Government guidelines below which set out the overarching guidelines for respective sectors allowed to open:

Risk Assessment

Please make sure that you have undertaken a risk assessment (you MUST have one) and that this is recorded in a format which is easily accessible.

  • Local authority officers and police can to ask to see a copy of this risk assessment.
  • They will prefer to see a digital copy or a photograph of the risk assessment to help reduce handling paperwork between a number of different people.

Please refer to the Covid-19 toolkit, which has been produced by the Devon Local Authorities.  The toolkit brings together a number of resources to help guide you through the main considerations for restarting your business safely. This toolkit (BBFA toolkit) is updated regularly following the latest government advice and can be found at

South West Growth Hub

Customer details

In order to help with the NHS Test and Trace system and help prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Government expects venues to keep a temporary list of the details of customers who attend their venues. These details include the name, address and contact details of the customer.

  • For restaurants and other venues which use a formal booking system, this should offer no real challenges as systems should already be in place. 
  • For other venues, it is expected that these details are taken in whatever format the venue is capable of managing.

There are many different methods in which this data could be taken and stored – Apps, individual cards, books, etc. but it must be stressed that data protection still remains an important issue and that a book should not simply be left at the entrance where customers can see the details of other customers.
If a pen is used for customers to write down their details, the facility for customers to wipe this clean should be available.

Guidance to assist with maintaining secure data recording and storage

  1. Collect only minimum information required - for the purposes of test and trace you will probably only need name, contact number, email and date and time of booking. Keep it simple and make sure that all staff understand the law and the process.

    The venue should collect the following information, where possible:


    the names of staff who work at the premises
    a contact phone number for each member of staff
    the dates and times that staff are at work

    Customers and visitors

    the name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the 'leader' of the group and the number of the group
    a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or 'lead member of the group
    date of visit, arrival time and, where possible departure time.
  2. Tell customers why you need this information and what you will do with it; this is a key part of data protection law.
  3. Make sure the data is secure and cannot be seen by anyone else e.g. Signing in book on counter is not secure.
  4. Data should only be kept for 21 days and then securely destroyed. You are collecting data purely for the Test and Trace and this time frame fulfils that obligation.
  5. Data must be destroyed securely i.e. Do not throw in a bin etc.
  6. The data can only be used for the purposes of contact tracing and must not be used for marketing purposes, shared with anyone else etc. this is a breach of UK data protection laws.
  7. A single member of staff should be given the data management responsibility.


Part of the risk assessment should include the regular cleaning of all contact areas such as door handles, door locks, till screens, etc.

  • A record of when this cleaning takes place should be kept for at least 21 days.
  • Make cleaning obvious, this will reassure customers it is being carried out.


  • Parents of children should be advised that they are responsible for the social distancing of the child at all times.
  • All indoor children’s play areas must remain closed. 
  • If you have outdoor playgrounds, please refer to government guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms.
  • Parents should be reminded that children will need to remain seated
  • Children must be supervised when visiting the toilets.


Any venue offering a service where people can purchase and consume food and drink on the premises or land owned by the venue, must supply toilet facilities.

Toilets will need to be carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 with a strict cleaning regime which needs to be more frequent than it was previously:

  • Social distancing needs to be managed, with consideration around managing numbers of people in the facilities, a one in one out system, etc. 
  • Sufficient signage advising customers about hand washing and personal hygiene.
  • Cleaning regimes will need to be recorded as part of the risk assessment.
  • Keep a record of when cleaning takes place and could be displayed.


You are permitted to have more than 30 people at your venue (subject to your own capacity calculation based on social distancing requirements, which may be less than 30), but the below guidelines must be adhered to.

You must follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines on social distancing and limit those at a table to two households. Groups must be individual groups (related through a common purpose and knowledge of each other) up to a maximum of 6 people or two households.  

Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households. The guidance expects operators to make customers aware of, and encourage compliance with, limits on gatherings, for example, on arrival or at booking.

It is strongly advised that you have a booking system for all customers visiting your venue, even if just for a drink. This will allow control over capacity, collection of data and making sure that you are adhering to the Covid-19 Secure guidelines.

Table service

It is strongly suggested that the venue offers a table service for customers both inside and outside the venue. This will reduce the amount of movement within the venue once customers are at their tables.

  • All customers inside the venue MUST be seated at tables and should not sit, congregate or stand at the bar.
  • Ideally, customers using outside areas should be seated, although they are allowed to stand provided they are maintaining social distancing. 
  • You must have a process for managing capacity (staff member, security at door etc.) and if capacity is reached you will need a robust system in place to prevent customers from entering the venue.

The expectation is that if a venue is unable to manage their door effectively and customers continue to enter when capacity is reached, that the venue MUST seriously consider closing until numbers are controlled.

Outside areas

It is the responsibility of the venue to manage their outside areas including:

  • capacity
  • social distancing
  • noise
  • litter
  • behaviour of customers etc.
  • weather effects such as rain, which may encourage people to try and enter the venue above acceptable numbers

You will also need to consider smoking areas and how to preventing smoking in the door areas to allow easy, socially distanced movement of customers.

It is strongly suggested that plastics or polycarbonate glasses are used for sales to customers outside the venue.

Restrictions will be lifted shortly (date to be confirmed) when the Business and Planning Bill 2020 is formally passed in law to allow operators with existing alcohol on sales to also serve alcohol for consumption off the premises and to make deliveries.  This will be in place until 30th September 2021.  However, please note that this is not in place for the re-opening weekend of 4th July 2020. Any off-sales undertaken will need to be made in accordance with the licensing conditions of the premises. We will announce when the new legislation is in place on our website.

  • These off-sales do not have to be in a sealed container (once the legislation has been passed)
  • It is the responsibility of the venue to make sure that any alcohol sold as an off-sale is sold responsibly with consideration for the local environment and community (i.e. noise, littering urination, etc.).

Venues in an alcohol restricted area, such as a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), MUST advise customers purchasing off-sales that if the drink is consumed within the PSPO area an authorised person can ask for it to be handed over or poured away.

It is the responsibility of the venue to make sure that they are/are not in an alcohol restricted area.

  • It is strongly suggested that signage explaining this to customers would be a benefit to the venue in avoiding conflict.
  • The previous Covid-19 restriction of non-consumption on adjacent land under the Covid-19 regulations is no longer applicable upon re-opening.


The Government guidance has stated that live entertainment (such as music, comedy, etc.) should not be undertaken.

All venues are required to take steps to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other which includes; refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult, loud background music, communal dancing, group singing or chanting.

Discussions have been undertaken with regards to the showing of live sporting events and other broadcasts. At this time, these are not ‘banned’. The showing of these broadcasts should be individually risk assessed and this should be written down and recorded to show the due diligence of the venue in case of any issues arising.

Things to consider include:

  • The type of sporting event
  • The teams involved
  • Whether commentary should be on or off.
  • The volume of the broadcast should not be of a magnitude that causes customers to have to raise their voices, increasing the possibility of aerial transfer through shouting.

The following two sections should be considered seriously as they can increase the responsibility of the management of the venue significantly. It is for the venue to decide whether the risk assessments for each of these sections and possible contraventions of COVID regulations are worth the extra work.

Indoor games

Indoor games such as pool and darts need to be considered seriously. The intent of the guidance is to prevent customers walking around indoors, unless going to the toilet or bar (to make an order or to pay).

  • If the pool table or dart board is in the vicinity of an area traversed by customers, such as a passage between tables to get to the bar/toilet/exit then serious consideration should be given to not using the indoor sports.
  • Players should not share cues and in between turns, should be sat down.
  • There will need to be a strict cleaning regime in place, with consideration of pool cues, cue balls and darts being kept behind the bar and cleaned before each use by customers. Also, regular cleaning of the balls (especially the cue ball) and table will need to be undertaken and recorded.
  • If indoor sport facilities are in a different room, then this could mitigate some of the above issues around traversed areas.
  • A specific risk assessment will need to be completed for each type of indoor sport/game provided by the venue.

Gaming machines

Consideration - Gaming machines can lead to people walking around unnecessarily within the venue and the Covid-19 guidance aims to prevent this.

You will need to risk assess the use of gaming machines.
Things to consider include:

  • The location of the gaming machines - is use of them impeding the social distanced movement of your customers.
  • How you will maintain cleanliness of them after each use.

Remember Gaming machines should be clearly visible from the bar to enable legal age-verification checks to be carried out.


Expectation – all venues consider the use of prominent signage to advise customers of how the venue works. Most venues will potentially have different working practices which have been adapted to the layout of their premises /type of business. Customers may have come from a different venue which has different practices in place and therefore may not be as receptive to your practices without being advised first.

Examples include: 

  • Having signs outside the main entrances advising customers that they need to pre-book tables/drink/food, so that customers do not enter, causing congestion and possible conflict.
  • There is table service and staff will escort customers to their tables
  • Tables must/ should be booked in advance
  • Entrance & Exit signage (if possible)
  • Queue management signage

Signage should also be considered for others visiting venues who are not customers (staff/contractors/delivery people).

It is expected that those venues in an alcohol restriction area (such as a PSPO) will have signs explaining that any off-sales which are consumed in the restricted area are liable to be confiscated/ seized by Police.

Age Verification

Please remember that all of your responsibilities under the Licensing Act still continue during these changes to working practices.  In particular, customers may be required to remove facemasks for identification purposes, especially when trying to check their identification for age verification or Pubwatch banning processes.

If a customer refuses to remove their mask and allow themselves to be identified, serious consideration should be made as to whether they should be allowed in the venue. This may also be true when a person orders alcohol.

Additional useful & essential guidance

Government guidance - working safely during coronavirus

Government guidance - people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways

HSE guidance for completing Risk Assessments

National Best Bar None (BBN)

National Pubwatch Page

For further information or advice please contact our Licensing Team: 

Police Licensing Team:


When this content has been updated

Last updated 22 December 2020