Coronavirus - reopening guidance for pubs and restaurants

Latest guidance and advice for pubs and restaurants on how to keep your premises, customers and staff safe when you reopen.



This guidance is divided into 2 sections:

Why is it important to follow this guidance?

Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and other people on site. Full guidance can be found on the government's coronavirus business reopening advice page.


Social distancing

Maintaining social distancing of 2m is the best way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Maintaining 2 metres will:

  • Help protect your staff and customers
  • Mean that staff may not have to stop work if a customer or another staff member tests positive for Coronavirus
  • Keep your business trading as you will not risk a large number of staff going into self-isolation at the same time

Risk assessment

You must carry out a risk assessment before reopening.

  • Write down the findings of your risk assessment. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a risk assessment template and information on how to do a risk assessment. Guidance is also available from the government's coronavirus business reopening advice page
  • Talk to your employees when completing the risk assessment
  • Take into account anything that may make a particular member of staff or customer more at risk and think about staff or customers who might need more help in understanding the precautions
  • Share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. Go through it with staff when they return to work. Display reminders prominently in your workplace, as well as on your website

Keeping records

We all need to help reduce Coronavirus by supporting the NHS Test and Trace process. Keeping some information about staff and visitors will help Public Health contain an outbreak of the illness.

Keep a record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business. Keep the Date and time of visit, name and contact number. This should be easy for advance bookings. If you have a group booking, the number of people in the booking and the details of the lead contact should be enough. If you are a restaurant, the table number could also be useful. Let the customer know why you are asking for the information.

Your premises

What is the maximum number of visitors you can have safely on your premises? You may need to move or remove some seats and/or tables. Can people be 2m apart? If not, do you have screens or other measures in place? Put up signs and markers to remind everyone of the social distancing rules.

Provide table service and make the most of outdoor space wherever possible. Consider one-way systems. Can people enter through one door and leave from another? Work with your local authorities and neighbouring businesses to minimise the impact of your processes on public spaces (e.g. queuing systems, etc.).

Encourage customers to use hand sanitiser when then enter the premises. Customer toilets will need increased cleaning, social distancing markers and guidance, as well reminders to practice good hand hygiene. Give consideration to a "one in, one out" policy if space is limited and the addition of hand sanitiser after hand-washing to promote good hand hygiene.

Note down the areas where a lot of people walk through and all the places where hands touch surfaces. These areas will need more frequent cleaning. Write down how and when these areas will be cleaned. Hand-touch points will need to be sanitised after cleaning.

If it is safe to do so, keep doors open to minimise hand contact surfaces.

The illness spreads more easily inside. Increase ventilation by opening windows wherever possible.

Have enough cleaning products (e.g. soap, sanitiser and paper towels).

Keep all wash-basis well-stocked with liquid soap and paper towels. Put notices at public and staff wash-basins to remind people about the 20 second rule.

Working areas should support social distancing, but if this is not possible then staff should either work side by side or facing away from each other as opposed to face to face, or screens should be installed.

Your staff

Any staff who have symptoms of the coronavirus should be told to go home immediately and follow the government's Stay at home and Staying safe outside your home guidance. They should apply for a test and not return to work until they have either tested negative or completed their self-isolation period and are symptom free.

If possible get staff to arrive and leave work at different times (e.g. staggering times and setting clear entrance/exit routes). Have a staff rota that minimise contact between groups or shifts of employees. Keep a record of the days and times of when people are working.

Wherever possible a full table service should be offered, but social distancing must still be practiced.

Encourage staff to take breaks in a safe, outside space if possible at different times. Don't allow staff to group together, for example in smoking areas.

Tell staff clearly what they need to do and why and check that they understand.

All staff will need to understand the importance of cleaning. You will need to instruct and supervise staff to make sure they are cleaning correctly. Staff must know how, when and where to use sanitisers. Some sanitisers need a to be on a surface for a long time to kill the virus. Use disposable cloths / paper towels.

Staff should wash hands and dry thoroughly as soon as they get to work and frequently throughout the day.

Your customers

Encourage customers to follow social distancing measures. Minimise self-service of food or drink. Don't allow customers to collect their own cutlery or shared condiments. Replace shared menus with chalk or white boards in suitable locations.

It is recommended that customers remain at their tables wherever possible to minimise contact with staff and other customers.

Contactless payments (or payment via an app) is the safest way for people to pay.

Don't play music that means people will have to talk loudly or shout to be heard, shouting increases the risk of spread of infection.

Clean and sanitise customer tables and chairs between sittings.

Display posters or information showing customers how to behave at your venue to keep everyone safe. Posters with clear pictures and directions are better than posters with lots of writing. If customers are visually impaired, make sure you spend time to help them understand the rules.


The appendices provide some extra advice on the government's 'Covid Secure' guidance for your business.

Read the Icon for pdf appendices to the reopening guidance for pubs and restaurants [93.76KB]