New regulations came into force in England on 14 September which prohibit the gathering of 6 or more people unless a valid exemption applies.

Changes to coronavirus restrictions

The figure of 6 relates to both indoor and outdoor gatherings at bars and restaurants; however, it does not apply to situations where a gathering is reasonably necessary for work (not including after-work drinks parties). Other situations which are exempt include:

  • the provision of charitable services
  • education and training
  • providing childcare
  • providing emergency assistance
  • providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • facilitating access to and contact between parents and children where they do not live in the same household.

Bars and restaurants will of course be able to accommodate a safe number of people and should be led by their own COVID-19 risk assessments. But they should be on extra alert to ensure that groups of more than 6 are not allowed to gather inside their premises. This may not be easy when groups of 6 or more intermingle. In these hard times, to avoid threats of closure from the local authority, pubs and bars will need to stay compliant and staff should be very much on alert.

Gatherings of up to 30 for marriage or civil partnerships or for gatherings for a significant event are also exempted. Guidance indicates that significant events include bar mitzvahs, wakes and other matters where there is a religious necessity or it is a matter of faith.

NHS Test and Trace

From 18 September it is mandatory for businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data and keep this for 21 days. Core COVID-19-secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses and “egregious breaches enforced”. The Government has produced simplified COVID-19 secure guidance which can be seen here.

An army of EHOs and enforcement officers, we are told, will be deployed to keep an eye on the sector and there is talk of bringing back from retirement some older EHOs to help out with this! These will have the title of COVID-19 Secure Marshalls. With systems such as this in place, it is extremely important that businesses within the hospitality sector strictly adhere to the new regulations which have come into force.

Guidance for the sector is changing very quickly and it can be difficult to keep up with the ongoing requirements. Should you have any questions or need any assistance, please get in touch with Gareth Hughes using the details below.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.