Business support and advice
Support and advice for businesses affected by COVID-19.

Covid-19 advice for Pubs, Clubs, Bars and Restaurants selling alcohol

Champagne flutes

This content was last updated on 30 October 2020.

Government has declared that Preston (and Lancashire as a whole) is a "Tier 3, Very High Alert" area according to the Government Covid Alert system.

The main legislation imposing restrictions in Preston is The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020.

Guidance on making your premises Covid Secure

The government has prepared guidance for Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Takeaway Services and the visitor economy for Hotels.

Public houses, bars and restaurants must close or serve a substantial meal

Public houses, bars and other business involving the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises must cease to carry on that business. However venues can remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant - which means serving substantial meals, such as main lunchtime or evening meal, they may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.

Guidance for businesses

  • The 'meal' must amount to more than a 'bar snack'. The Council does not consider that a sandwich with crisps or other such snacks such as pies or sausage rolls to be a substantial meal. Examples of a substantial meal would include;

    • A pie with mashed potato and peas

    • Lasagne with salad

    • Burger with chips and salad

    • Large pizza

    • Curry with rice or naan bread

    • 'Sunday roast' with carvery meat, roast potatoes and vegetables.  

The meal must be purchased by the customer at the premises and when purchasing the meal the customer may also purchase alcohol. Therefore premises cannot provide free food to accompany alcohol that has been purchased.

A reasonable amount of alcohol may be purchased to accompany a meal.  Allowing the purchase of copious amounts of alcohol to be consumed with the meal, or with the intention that the alcohol is likely to be consumed long after the food has been eaten, is not allowed.

Club Premises Certificates

Following an announcement from government, premises operating with Club Premises Certificates must adhere to the same rules as other licensed premises as detailed on this page.

This took effect from midnight on Friday 30 October.

Business Closures between 10pm - 5am

Businesses selling and/or supplying food or drink (including takeaways, cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities) and bingo halls are required to close at 10pm. 

This means that customers must have left the premises by 10pm and the doors must be closed to the public. However, employees can remain on site to undertake closing duties. 

As such businesses will need to consider a suitable cut off time for last orders, and in venues such as pubs, sporting events should not be screened if they are likely to conclude past 10pm. 

Exemptions apply to cinemas, theatres and concert halls which have started shows before 10pm. However they will not be permitted to serve food or drink to customers after 10pm, and should bring their show to a close as close to 10pm as possible. There are no exemptions for other premises including pubs or restaurants who have live performances.

You should consider displaying a 'Last Orders' poster in your business.Icon for pdf Poster - 10pm Closing Time [506.78KB]

Table Ordering and Service Only

Businesses may only serve alcohol and food if it is ordered from and served to a person seated at a table. Businesses must ensure they take all reasonable steps to ensure customers remain seated whilst consuming food and drink.

Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence.

You should consider displaying a 'Table Service Only' Poster Icon for pdf Poster - Table Service Only [505.81KB]

Understanding Social Distancing (Further Guidance) - Keeping Customers Safe

This section builds upon the advice contained in the governments guidance for Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Takeaway Services,and should be read with that guidance.

Only groups from one household (or support bubbles) can be admitted together and be seated together at a table.

Businesses must not accept bookings of persons from more than one household. Businesses must undertake robust checks to ensure that only one household is being admitted at a time. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence.

There must be no mixing or 'mingling' of the groups. Businesses must take reasonable precautions to prevent mingling. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence.

Persons (or separate households) must remain 2 meters apart. Persons (or separate households) may come as close as 1 meter as long as mitigating measures are put in place. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence.

You should consider displaying a 'Keep a Safe Distance Poster'  Icon for pdf Poster - Keep a Safe Distance [511.23KB]

What are mitigating measures?

  • Clear demarcation: Ensure that there is clear demarcation for persons queuing, whether that be at entrances, toilets or the bar. Ensure that there are arrows and other signs guiding people in the right direction, especially if there is a one way system.
  • Sitting different groups side by side rather than facing each other: People sat at tables need to be an absolute minimum of 1 meter apart. This might not be sufficient if persons cannot pass safely between tables.
  • Sitting customers back to back: Remember the distance between the customers from different households must be a minimum of 1 meter. If using movable furniture then it may need to be wider allowing for customers to move the furniture when seated. Customers and staff have to move safely between tables. If using fixed furniture such as booths, they are likely to need additional screening, or other barriers, as it is unlikely customers will be 1 meter apart.
  • The use of physical barriers: Customers from different households can be very close if there is a physical barrier between them such as a Perspex screen.
  • Strict Management Controls: You may need to remove tables and chairs and use signage. Some venues have struggled to remove tables and chairs and have therefore decided to keep the tables in the venue but put strict written rules in place preventing guests being seated on certain tables and placing signage on the tables stating the tables are not in use. This management system should be recorded in a written management plan.
  • Consider outside areas. Do not place seating near to ash trays, this may encourage smokers to come close to other persons who are seated to extinguish their cigarette butt. Smokers should not be allowed to stand with a drink and smoke outside

Collection of Customer Details (NHS Test and Trace)

It is now a legal requirement for businesses to collect customer contact details for the purpose of contact tracing.

Venues in hospitality must: 

  • ask at least one member of every party of customers or visitors to provide their name and contact details 
  • keep a record of all staff working on their premises and shift times on a given day and their contact details 
  • keep these records of customers, visitors and staff for 21 days and provide data to NHS Test and Trace if requested 
  • display an official NHS QR code poster so that customers and visitors can 'check in' using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details 
  • adhere to General Data Protection Regulations Hospitality venues must also refuse entry to those who refuse to participate or who you think are providing details that are inaccurate or incomplete. 
  • Failure to collect customer and staff details, and display the NHS poster, is an offence for which you may be served a Fixed Penalty or Prosecuted.
  • For more information visit the NHS website.

Other Considerations

  • Businesses should provide hand sanitiser at the entrances and outside of the toilets Icon for pdf Poster - Please Use Hand Sanitizer [503.64KB]
  • Consider making your premises bookings only. This will help you control the numbers of customers at any one time, this is especially important at busy times
  • You need to protect your employees from Covid aerosols and droplets emitted by people when they are talking, sneezing or coughing etc. If you are going to allow people to approach the bar to pay you will need to install a barrier or have those staff wear a face visor, as well as a face covering
  • Limit the handling of cash as it can transfer the virus.  There are many affordable card payment systems on the market such as IZettle, SumUp and Square Reader
  • You must clean your tables and seating between each customer. Use soap & water and a suitable sanitizer.
  • Condiments should be provided in single use sachets.  Any condiment containers such as salt, vinegar and ketchup must be cleaned and sanitizer between customers
  • Do not set or lay the table prior to guests arriving. Otherwise glasses, cutlery and napkins maybe contaminated with the Covid Virus. Lay the table immediately before your guests sit down, or Bring cutlery or condiments with the meal
  • Display information posters to keep customers and employees safe, for example our Covid Secure Poster Icon for pdf Poster - Covid Secure Premises [524.17KB] and our Hands, Face, Space Poster Icon for pdf Poster - Hands, Face, Space [524.38KB]


You must ensure that toilets are managed properly; 

  • Consider limiting the number of people in the toilets at any one time. 
  • Smaller venues may be able to allow one person to enter at a time. Larger venues could ask customers to limit to 2 or 3 customers and/or place staff on the toilets to control access at busy times.
  • Display handwashing notices. Icon for pdf Poster - Hand Washing [517.3KB]
  • Ensure they are cleaned regularly, every 30 minutes or more at busy times. Concentrate on door handles, cubicle locks, toilets flushes, taps and toilets seats etc.
  • Close urinals that are too close together, remember 1 meter apart
  • Close wash hand basin's that are too close together, remember 1 meter apart

Face Coverings

You must now display a poster at entrances that informs customers that they must wear a face covering, failure to do so is an offence for which you may be served a Fixed Penalty or Prosecuted. 

If you display this poster at your entrances and throughout your premises you will be complying with the requirements Icon for pdf Poster - Wear a Face Covering [544.05KB]


Customers must only remove their face covering if they are sat at a table and eating or drinking. All other times they must wear a face covering, for example paying at the bar, going to the toilet or moving to the beer garden for a cigarette.

Customers should not take their drinks to stand and smoke in the beer garden. Customers can only drink and smoke if they are sat down.


Face coverings are defined as a covering for the mouth and nose.

A visor is not a suitable alternative to a face covering. Face coverings protect other people around the wearer as they stop droplets being projected from the nose or mouth. However they do not protect the wearer.

Visors protect the wearer from droplets being sent to them, but do not protect others around them as droplets can still go down, from the wearer. 

All employees that work in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants must wear a face covering when they are likely to be in contact with members of the public. (e.g. Hosts, waiters, glass collectors, door supervisors, cleaners, bar staff etc) 

  • If you have staff that are only going to be in 'staff only' areas such as a kitchen or office, they do not need to wear a face covering. 
  • If employees are shielded from the public behind suitable screens or barriers, they also do not need to wear a face covering. 
  • If waiting staff are going to be going closer than 2 meters for more than a few seconds (for example when taking an order) then you should also provide a visor. 
  • If employees are exempt from wearing a face covering they should be given duties that do not include mixing with the public, or be shielded behind screen etc. They should be given a face visor to protect them from others, because they are likely to be vulnerable if they cannot wear a face covering. 
  • Enforcement action can be taken if barriers and screens are in place which do not adequately mitigate risks (they have to be tall and wide enough e.g. staff should not be within 2 meters of persons unless separated by a screen or face covering.)


  • Recorded music (DJ's, Duke box etc) should be louder than 85db(A).
  • Live performances (Including Live bands/singers/karaoke) are permitted in Preston.
  • Venues must follow the Performing Arts Guidance
  • Karaoke microphones should be covered with a disposable microphone cover and this should be changed between each customer. The microphone and stand should be cleaned between customers. Singers should be at least 2 meters away from other persons.


Under no circumstances can you allow any dancing to occur in your premises. Areas such as dance floors that are usually used for dancing should be 'closed'.

You should prevent access to these areas or repurpose these areas with table and chairs. Failing to stop customers dancing is an offence for which you may be served a Fixed Penalty or Prosecuted and receive a formal closure notice from the Council or Police

Live Sports

Sports, such as football, can be screened.

  • The sound should be kept low
  • Customers cannot stand
  • Customers may now sing in groups or no more than six
  • We strongly advise that Live events (Football, boxing etc) that are likely to finish after 10pm should not be screened.


  • Players must be from the same household/bubble
  • Only those playing can be stood in or around the pool table
  • Cues should be stored behind the bar and given to each player on request
  • Pool equipment, such as Cues, Balls, Triangles and tables edges must be cleaned between players
  • Players should try to sit down between shots
  • Players must wear a face covering when playing
  • Players must not drink unless seated at their table and have received their alcoholic drink with a substantial meal.

Skill and Games Machines

  • Ensure they are cleaned regularly
  • Provide hand sanitiser near to any games machine
  • Maintain social distancing at machines, you may need to provide screens if two are side by side or move a machine. (You must still follow the Code of Practice for Gaming Machines)
  • Only allow one person at a time to play machines
  • If persons are standing then they must wear a face covering.

Hosting Life Celebration Events

Wakes and similar events are permitted up to a maximum of 15 guests, however there must be no mixing between persons from different households.

Life celebration events such as wedding receptions, birthday parties, Christenings etc are currently prohibited.

Beer Gardens and Pavement Cafe's

Existing: If you were using a beer garden or pavement cafe before the Coronavirus Emergency then you can use it again as long as you implement Social Distancing Guidelines.

New Pavement Licences: This new process introduces a streamlined and cheaper route for businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars to secure a licence to place furniture on the highway. This will support them to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place. To apply for a new Pavement Licence go to our Pavement Licence pages.

Re-purposing a Business to Provide Food

Businesses wanting to repurpose their premises to provide a substantial meal must ensure they can comply with the Food Safety requirements. Businesses will need to re-register as a food businesses to update their details with the Council, ensure they implement a food safety management plan and put in place allergen management procedures. For a full list of the requirements visit our Starting a Food Business pages.

Useful links

If you have any concerns or would like any advice please contact Environmental Health on 01772 906907, or use our Coronavirus Report Form

Share this page

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email


Print this page