Big changes to how we go to pubs and restaurants in England will take force on Thursday – and last the whole winter.
From Thursday, it will be illegal to go to the bar to order your drink, with venues restricted to table service only.
And last orders are set to be called at 9.30pm as venues are forced to shoo everyone out by 10pm on the dot.
Kebab shops and other late-night takeaways will be forced to shut at 10pm, allowed only to make deliveries rather than take walk-in customers.
And you’ll be forced by law to wear a face covering when you enter a restaurant or pub, though you can take it off when you sit down. Bar staff and waiters must also wear masks by law from Monday.
So what are the new rules Boris Johnson has announced and how will they work in practice?
While the government has provided only scarce detail so far, we’ve made as much sense of them as we can.
What is changing and when?
From this Thursday onwards, all pubs and restaurants in England must close at 10pm every night.
Leisure venues such as cinemas and bingo halls must also have everyone out by 10pm.
Meanwhile, it will also become the law that hospitality restaurants can only serve customers using table service.
In other words, propping up the bar is banned.
These rules are basically an extension of what’s already happening in several ‘local lockdown’ areas to the whole of England.
What businesses will it apply to?
The Prime Minister said the 10pm closure rule will apply to “all hospitality venues”, which include pubs, bars, restaurants, and late-night cafes.
That also includes takeaways where you walk into the shop itself – like a kebab shop or late-night chippy.
Meanwhile, Downing Street confirmed the 10pm closures will also apply to leisure, entertainment and tourism businesses.
The full list of affected venues used in local lockdowns suggests it will apply to:
- Bars including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
- Hotel bars and dining rooms
- Cafes (but not workplace canteens)
- Bowling alleys
- Social clubs
- Amusement arcades
- Funfairs (indoors or outdoors)
- Theme parks
- Adventure parks and activities
- Bingo halls
- Concert halls
It will not apply to cinemas and theatres in cases where performances run over the 10pm deadline.
So I can’t get a takeaway?
Takeaways are included in the order to close at 10pm.
However, deliveries of food are still allowed between 10pm and 5am.
That means while you can’t walk into a takeaway or kebab shop, you can get it delivered to your house.
What time will last orders be called?
Pubs will have to close on the dot at 10pm, which realistically means calling last orders at around 9.30pm.
Boris Johnson told MPs: “To help the police to enforce this rule, I am afraid that means alas closing, and not just calling for last orders. Simplicity is paramount.”
Can I stand outside a pub in the street with a pint?
The Government has clarified that all food and drinks must be consumed seated.
If the pint is served to you for consumption on the premises – inside the building or in a beer garden or pavement patio area – then you must sit at a table in order to order it.
However, if you are served a takeaway pint for consumption off the premises, then you can order it and take it away.
If you are in a public street, clearly you are no longer on the pub’s premises.
However, it’s likely this will be a grey area if people congregate outside pubs, spilling over into the patio area and the venue is clearly responsible.
The Government has said licensed hospitality venues must provide a table service, meaning that food and drink must be ordered and served at a table – that applies inside and outside.
A spokesperson said the Government has already made it easier for licensed venues to add additional outside seating through fast-tracked coronavirus measures.
The ‘rule of six’ will continue to apply at all times off the premises, and food and drink sold for consumption off-site must not be eaten or drank while still on the venue’s premises.
Will I be fined for standing at the bar?
No. There are no fines for individual punters for breaking the 10pm closure rule, or the table service only rule.
However, you could be fined £200 if you break the ‘rule of six’ on gatherings.
And the pubs themselves can be hit with fines of £1,000 if they fail to enforce the rules, rising to as high as £10,000 for repeat offences. Councils also have powers to close non-compliant businesses.
Boris Johnson made it clear police and local authorities would be enforcing the rules and there will be new legal duties – yet to be fully confirmed – on venues to ensure the rules are followed.
Do I have to wear a mask in the pub now?
Yes – until you sit down.
The law is changing from Monday, forcing punters at pubs and restaurants to wear masks when they move around the venue.
Boris Johnson said: “We will extend the requirement to wear face coverings to include… staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.”
So when you are at your table, you can take your mask off.
Can I still meet my friends at the pub?
Yes – unless you’re in one of several local lockdown areas where this is not allowed, such as Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester.
Despite calls to crack down on social contact, Boris Johnson decided not to ban gatherings between people from more than one household.
That means you can still see your friends or family at a pub or restaurant, as long as there aren’t more than six people in your group.
You should, however, stay two metres apart from anyone outside your household even when you’re at a table together.
Can I go round my mate’s house when the pub shuts?
Yes – unless you’re one of the 13.7million Brits covered by a local lockdown.
While pubs are limited to table service, and have to shut at 10pm, private gatherings of up to six people are still allowed in non-local-lockdown parts of the UK.
Do you agree with the 10pm pub curfew?
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Does the 10pm curfew actually make any sense?
Well, it’s prompted a furious row.
Boris Johnson defended the measure, saying: “The spread of the disease tends to happen later at night when excessive alcohol has been consumed”.
But lobby group UK Hospitality claimed it would simultaneously hurt pubs and have little impact in beating the virus.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period.”
She added: “It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when Government data shows that just 5% of infections out of the home are related to hospitality.
“Where such restrictions have been put in place locally they have not cut infection rates, merely damaged business and cost jobs.”
How long will the new rules last?
Until Spring, at a rough guess.
The Prime Minister warned: “We will spare no efforts in developing vaccines, treatments, new forms of mass testing.
“But unless we palpably make progress, we should assume the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.”
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