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Coronavirus (COIVD-19): Keeping workers and customers safe in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services


From Saturday 4 July 2020, pubs, restaurants and bars will be able to re-open if they follow COVID Secure guidelines.

Read the government guidance on keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services [PDF document]

What you need to do as a business

  • Follow the guidance, take action and put measures in place that suit the nature of your business such as the size and type of your business and how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated
  • Regularly monitor any measures you put in place to make sure they continue to protect your customers and workers
  • Make sure social distancing is maintained in your venue wherever possible
  • Keep a temporary record of customers and visitors to assist the NHS Test and Trace service

COVID-19 early outbreak management action cards

The government has created guidance and action cards to help business owners plan out what to do if someone in your business is confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19).

To download the action cards see action cards.

For more information on the governments guidance around outbreak management see COVID-19 early outbreak management.

Outdoor seating licence

To help support businesses, the government is introducing a simpler licencing process for outdoor seating areas for pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Guidance is available at GOV.UK: Pavement licence (outdoor seating proposal)

To apply for a licence online see Pavement cafe licence

Keeping workers and visitors safe

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect the health and safety of your workers.

You must make sure that the health and safety risk assessment for your business is suitable and sufficiently addresses the risks of COVID-19. Use the guidance to help with your decisions and control measures. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to.

Council officers will be doing routine and intelligence-led compliance checks over the coming weeks to make sure that your business is operating responsibly and in line with current Government guidance. Formal enforcement action may be taken if you do not comply with the Government guidance.

Preparing to reopen your business

Risk assessments

You must carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.

If you have 5 or more employees, your risk assessment must be written down. Your assessment should:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn't possible, control the risk

You will need to talk with your employees about health and safety, and explain any changes you are making. Get their thoughts and ideas about how to organise the workplace to help keep people safe.

Any changes that you need to make will help you to operate your business safely during the coronavirus outbreak. The people who do the work are often the best people to under stand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely.

COVID Secure notice

Once you have completed your risk assessment, you must share this with your employees and you should display a notice to show that you are COVID secure.

For a copy of this notice visit GOV.UK: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you have 50 or more employees, the notice should also be published on your website.

Safety checks to consider


When you reopen, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risk of Legionnaires' disease.

Before you consider reopening:

  • flush through hot / cold water systems with fresh water for a minimum of 5 minutes (eg taps, toilet cisterns, urinals and any other water outlets connected to the water system)
  • temporarily increase the temperature of the hot water system to above 60°C if possible before drawing it through the system. You must make sure that the system can deliver water at safe temperatures by checking temperatures before reopening
  • check that the hot-water supply is a minimum of 50°C after one minute. With a Thermostatic Mixing Valve (TMV) fitted, water temperatures at the hot tap should not exceed 44°C. The cold-water supply should be a maximum of 20°C or below after two minutes
  • flush through larger hot/cold water systems (including tanks, showers, calorifiers etc) for a significant period

Flushing the water outlets can create water droplets. You must make sure you flush gently to reduce the risk of producing aerosols or remain at a safe distance.

For further guidance see Health and Safety Executive: Legionella and Legionnaires' disease

Fire safety

It's important to continue practising fire safety.

You should review your fire risk assessment and emergency plan and consider the impact of Covid-19 on your staffing levels, operating times, business processes and evacuation arrangements.

New and temporary staff should receive fire safety training and awareness. Staff should be extra vigilant of potential hazards and risks, particularly where staffing levels have been reduced, or if staff are working alone or in an isolated environment

Further guidance is available at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

Gas safety

It is important that you continue to manage the hazards that equipment failure can present to employees and visitors to your workplace. 

Thorough examinations, written schemes and statutory inspections should still take place following social distancing guidance. Under certain circumstances and if agreed, these may be postponed to a later date.

It is still your responsibility to make sure that the equipment is safe to use and pre-use checks should take place. If the equipment cannot be used safely, then it must be taken out of use.

Further guidance is available at Health and Safety Executive: Work equipment and machinery.

Legal requirements

This guidance does not replace any legal obligations under health and safety, entertainment licensing, employment or equalities legislation and you still need to comply with your existing legal responsibilities, including the removal of waste beer into the public sewer.

For more information see Northumbrian Water: Trade effluent

Further advice

If you need any further advice or assistance please email:

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