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COVID-19 - guidance for businesses opening on 4 July 2020

Last updated: 30 June 2020 at 11.30am

Emergency period restrictions have affected trading for licensed and hospitality businesses. The most important message regarding re-opening is still to control the virus and save lives. The safety of staff and customers is paramount to ensure this.

Which businesses can re-open from 4 July?

The licensed premises listed below can open from 4 July 2020.

Business or venue Guidance for re-opening safely
Food and drink
All indoor and outdoor hospitality that is self-contained and can be accessed from the outside. This includes, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and workplace canteens. People should only visit a restaurant in their household groups (or support bubbles), or with one other household, or with up to five other people outdoors.
Recreation and leisure
Cinemas, theatres and concert halls At this time, venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience. This is important to mitigate the risks of aerosol transmission - from either the performer(s) or their audience. There will be further guidance setting out how performing arts activity can be managed safely in other settings, for instance rehearsing or broadcast without an audience.
Bingo halls  
Amusement arcades and other entertainment centres Close contact activity such as visiting an entertainment centre should only be conducted within a household group/bubble or with one other household/bubble.

Certain activities that take place in these venues, including indoor sports and fitness are advised not to take place.
Social clubs  
Indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms, wildlife centres and any place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction  

The premises listed below must remain closed by law:

  • nightclubs
  • casinos
  • bowling alleys and Indoor skating rinks
  • indoor play areas including soft-play
  • spas
  • nail bars, beauty salons and tanning salons
  • massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
  • swimming pools including water parks
  • exhibition or conference centres must remain closed for events such as exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for the business or organisation who run the venue.

For clarification of which businesses can reopen from 4 July, please visit the GOV.UK website

Guidance relating to restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services sets out how to open workplaces while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19 and covers areas such as:

  • Risk assessments (needing to be undertaken and displayed).
  • Keeping customers and employees safe (access, layout, hygiene, PPE, signage).
  • Assisting NHS Track and Trace (temporarily recording and keeping customer details).
  • Management of food and drink for customer at pub, for takeaway and delivery (minimising contacts, designated delivery and collection points).
  • Toilets (ventilation, social distancing, signage).
  • Entertainment (no live music to live audience or cause for customer to raise voices).
  • Cleaning (toilets, touchpoints, surfaces).
  • Use of PPE and face covering provisions for staff.

Guidance on working safely for restaurants/pubs offering takeaway or delivery can be found on the GOV.UK website

Re-opening - first steps

  • Check your licence and what it permits/prohibits.
  • Check if it contains any conditions preventing you operating how you envisage.
  • Assess if you have sufficient arrangements in place for cleaning, handwashing and toilet facilities? What provisions can you offer if it rains?
  • Consider if your plans impact on neighbouring businesses and residents say for example if socially distanced queuing is likely to take place on public highway.
  • Check if you need to make changes to your licence, vary the Designated Premises Supervisor or submit Temporary Event Notices?
  • Undertake a COVID-19 Risk Assessment and set up system to record customer details?
  • Plan your operation and site layout in accordance with the government guidance and to promote the four licensing objectives (prevent crime and disorder, promote public safety, prevent public nuisance and protect children from harm)

We also recommend you join or register for media, regulatory and operational updates from the GOV.UK website, specialist licensing solicitors, trade journals and regulatory bodies such as The Morning Advertiser, Institute of Licensing, BBPA, BII etc. These regularly provide helpful advice and toolkits to assist operators with risk assessments, re-opening checklists and other guidance to promote best practice to comply with social distancing and regulatory restrictions.

Complying with licensing conditions

Premises are advised to talk to the Licensing Team, Police or other responsible authority at the earliest opportunity if they are uncertain regarding compliance with conditions on their licence. A considered and pragmatic approach will be taken to any breaches of licence conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly where these breaches do not have a significant adverse impact on the licensing objectives. However, licence holders must rectify any breaches as soon as possible.

Business and Planning Bill 2020

The Bill went before Parliament on 29 June 2020. It proposed the following:

  • Reduction in consultation and determination time (10 working days total) for tables and chairs licences.
  • Fee capped at £100 but normal application process and conditions still apply.
  • Deemed planning permission.
  • Premises licence issued under the Licensing Act 2003 will be allowed to have off sales.
  • Licence conditions relating to off sales in sealed containers will be suspended.
  • These temporary measures will be in place until 30 September 2021.

Applicants will have the option to apply for a tables and chairs licence under the normal procedure or the temporary procedure. This information will be updated if the Bill is enacted.

For further information on the Business and Planning Bill, please visit the Parliament Publications website

Other guidance

Track and trace

The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. 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. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording their customers and visitors – including restaurants, hotels, and hair salons. If you do not already do this, you should do so to help fight the virus. Central Government will work with industry and relevant bodies to design this system in line with data protection legislation, and set out details shortly.

Hot and cold water systems

When buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems such as taps, WCs and showers are not put back into use without considering the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present as a consequence of the conditions that lockdown may have created. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has issued guidance on how to manage water systems and recommission them after a period of disuse:

Legionnaires' disease: lockdown risks and reopening safely document on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health website.

Further advice for food businesses

For those reopening food businesses after a period of closure the Food Standards Agency has provided some practical advice to identify what you need to do to restart operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the hygiene processes and requirements you must follow to safely operate your food business:

Reopening checklist for food businesses during COVID-19 on the Food Standards Agency website

Health and safety advice

For general advice on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, including advice on how to carry out risk assessments, how to protect home workers, PPE and social distancing in the workplace and general workplace cleaning and hygiene please visit:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): working safely page on the Health and Safety Executive website

Further advice

Guidance on staying Safe and Alert pre and post 4 July on the GOV.UK website

Licensing COVID-19 guidance

Environmental Health

COVID-19 - guidance for business

Maintaining records of staff, customer and visitors to support test and trace on the GOV.UK website

ICO guidance on customer and visitor details

COVID-19 - advice for food businesses


PDF document Government COVID-19 secure poster (PDF) [150 kb]

PDF document Licensed premises - re-opening checklist (PDF) [221 kb]

PDF document Preparing for 4 July - your plan of action (PDF) [2 Mb]

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