The document, created by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and UKHospitality in response to key questions from pub operators and licensees, aims to give clarity to pubs on what they need to do to adhere to the Government’s guidance, and how the guidance will be enforced.
The information represents the collective opinion and interpretation of the Government’s guidance by the BBPA, BII and UKHospitality, which say that the relaxing of lockdown on 4 July for hospitality businesses in England “does present an opportunity for pubs to offer a full range of services both within the pub and in their outdoor spaces”.
The document states that all pubs must undertake a risk assessment in order to ensure that they are COVID-19 secure and can re-open and that employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. Businesses are required to think about the risks they face and do everything that is reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising they cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 and are required to undertake a risk assessment for individual premises, assessed against the relevant UK Government COVID-19 Secure workplace guidance for pubs.
If a business fails to undertake a risk assessment or implement mitigations, the document states that enforcing authorities, such as the HSE or local authority, are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law, it says.
Whether the police have powers to shut an establishment it believes is not following the guidance, it states: ‘Enforcement of staff and customer safety in pubs from a COVID-19 perspective is the role of EHOs who will provide advice on mitigation measures taken following a risk assessment. There is no role of the police in enforcing risk mitigation measures except in the instances of gatherings of more than 30 people in a public area, which is currently illegal. Clearly if there is a public order in and around licensed premises this is for the police to enforce.’
Pubs are understood to be allowed to show live sport such as football matches under the guidance with the document stating that ‘neither the police nor EHOs have powers to issue blanket bans on pubs broadcasting of sport, which remains legal’. However, the Government guidance recommends that broadcasting of live sport does not take place where this encourages shouting and chanting, it says, so premises should fully consider this as part of their risk assessment process.
In terms of pre-booking, there is not a requirement for customers to pre-book, although this is suggested as one way to manage the flow of customers and help with track and trace.
There is also no obligation or a business to collect customers details on entry. ‘The opening up of pubs is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. Government guidance is that you should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed’, it says.
For customers indoors, the document states that Government guidance does not exclude bar service but that operators should follow its line that indoor table service must be used where possible, alongside further measures such as assigning a single staff member per table. Outdoor table service should also be encouraged, although customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced appropriately. ‘The intention of the guidance is that table service is considered as one of the ways in which a pub can seek to ensure social-distancing and as a means of controlling its capacity but bar service is not prohibited,’ it says.
While publicans should take reasonable steps to help groups maintain social-distancing, the document says there is no requirement for the staff to ensure those customers are complying. It adds that the onus is on the individuals within groups to follow the guidance for social-distancing, whether that is a household group or a group of up to six from different households.
Under the Guidance, pubs will still be able to operate a carvery, but only if they have risk assessed how this will operate safely and have implemented any appropriate mitigations, for example ensuring that staff serve the food rather than customers serving themselves.
The full document can be read here