Restaurants encouraged to stick to table service despite easing of Covid restrictions

It seems like more mixed messages for the hospitality industry

Updated on 19 July 2021 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Restaurants encouraged to stick to table service despite easing of Covid restrictions

New government guidance for the hospitality industry encourages restaurants, bars and pubs to stick to table service despite the easing of Coronavirus restrictions.

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As of Monday 19 July, coined ‘freedom day’ by some areas of the press, both public venues and private citizens will no longer be legally required to adhere to most Coronavirus restrictions, some of which have been in place for over a year. Despite this, new government guidance encourages hospitality venues to continue operating on a table service only basis, as well as keeping other social distancing measures in place where possible.

The advice forms part of the government’s new “Hospitality Strategy”, which focuses “on the ‘Three Rs’ of reopening, recovery and resilience”. The news will likely be met with confusion by industry professionals, who have had to navigate ever changing limitations since restaurants were first allowed to reopen in April - initially, restaurant could only operate outdoors, before reopening for indoor dining in May, although guests still had to adhere to the infamous ‘rule of six’ which meant no more than six diners at one table.

More recently, restaurants have had to grapple with the so-called ‘pingdemic’, which has seen thousands of people across the country having to self-isolate as Coronavirus cases soar. Current rules mean that a venue’s entire staff must isolate if they come into contact with a COVID-positive case, regardless of whether or not members of the team are fully vaccinated.

It is not all bad news for hospitality venues though, with the government’s new strategy also outlining plans to extend or make permanent pavement licences, making it easier for restaurants, pubs and cafes to offer alfresco dining. The temporary permission for off-sales of alcohol is also set to be extended, allowing the ‘takeaway pints’ trend to continue for another 12 months.

Wanting to enjoy the summer sunshine? Check out our favourite outdoor restaurants in London.