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Covid: What will the rules for pubs and restaurants be after July 19?

A staff member wears a face mask as she serves customers at a pub in London

Things are about to change for pubs and restaurants once again (Picture: Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has unveiled his plans for ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19 – when most of the remaining lockdown restrictions in England will be lifted.

The PM’s new five-point plan moves the country away from legal restrictions to personal responsibility – with mask-wearing becoming voluntary and social distancing rules being removed under most circumstances.

Of course, this will mean changes for the hospitality industry, which has found itself under stringent rules over the past 15 months, since lockdown rules were first introduced at the start of the pandemic.

What will the changes mean for pubs and restaurants after July 19?

What are the rules for pubs and restaurants after July 19?

Pubs and restaurants have been subjected to some strict restrictions over the past year – having to close completely during the lockdowns and stick to rules on social distancing, face coverings and limits of six per table when they have been open.

Meanwhile pubs have also had to restrict customers to table service only, with no ordering at the bar – and customers have had to check in at venues using the NHS app, so they can be contacted in the event of another customer or staff member testing positive.

However, that is all set to change from July 19.

From that date the ‘one metre plus’ rule on social distancing will be lifted, meaning that hospitality venues will no longer have to stick to table service only, and that customers in pubs can once again drink at the bar.

Capacity caps on hospitality venues will also be lifted.

‘We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in next few weeks, when we will be helped by arrival of summer and school holidays, then we must ask: When will be able to return to normal?’ Boris Johnson said in his announcement.

‘For those who say we have to delay again, the alternative to that is to reopen in winter when the virus will have an advantage or not all this year.’ 

A test and trace notice next to a chip and pin machine at a pub in London

Test and Trace check-ins may no longer be a legal requirement but venues may still ask customers to check in (Picture: Getty Images)

While the official rules may be changing as of July 19, it doesn’t mean that venues and local councils may not impose their own rules in order to keep customers safe.

While the need to check in to a venue via NHS Track and Trace, will no longer be a legal requirement, pubs and restaurants may choose to continue asking customers to do so – and they may also set their own rules on social distancing and wearing face coverings in certain parts of the venue.

Local councils may also impose their own rules, potentially keeping ordering at the bar off-limits for pubs and restaurants under their jurisdiction.

Those who are contacted by Test and Trace if they come into close contact with a positive Covid case will still have to self-isolate for 10 days after July 19.

The new rules are also only applicable to pubs and restaurants in England, with other parts of the UK having their own rules.

Scotland is hoping to move to protective level zero on July 19, with most major restrictions eased by August 9 – although face coverings in some places may still remain mandatory.

Wales has yet to announce when it might ease restrictions, but completely – but has indicated that many of its rules may move from becoming law to guidance in the coming weeks.

Northern Ireland is due to conduct its next review of its current lockdown measures on July 8.


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