Freedom Day is just around the corner and people in England are looking forward to lockdown restrictions easing from Monday (19 July).
In his announcement earlier this week, Boris Johnson announced that most restrictions will be scrapped, including the legal requirement to wear face masks and social distance.
In pubs and restaurants, the rule of six will be ditched and so will table service.
However, this doesn’t mean that life will return to normality as Johnson as asked the public and businesses to adopt a cautious approach to lockdown easing.
Many officials have slammed the government’s often confusing and mixed messages.
Dr Roger Barker, policy director at the Institute of Directors, said bosses are “understandably confused” as he criticised “a series of mixed messages and patchwork requirements”.
“Return to work or continue to stay at home. Throw away your masks or continue to wear them. Today’s long-awaited guidance from Government has done little to dispel that confusion,” he said.
Earlier this week, the government published some post 19 July guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, nightclubs or takeaways.
It details the recommended covid regulations that businesses should keep in place after freedom day.
The guidance is described as voluntary- but it also states that venues must still carry out a detailed Covid risk assessment to ensure they aren’t breaking health and safety laws.
Here are some of the Covid measures that pubs and restaurants may decide to keep in place, according to the new guidance:
In England, face masks are no longer a legal requirement.
However, the government say they “expect and recommend” people to continue wearing them in crowded areas- such as in pubs and restaurants.
Workers can choose whether or not to wear a face covering.
Boris Johnson recommended said some venue and events should use vaccine passports for entry “as a matter of social responsibility”.
The Covid Pass, on the NHS app, shows proof of double vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity having recovered from coronavirus.
According to the guidance, the Covid Pass, on the NHS app, shows proof of double vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity having recovered from coronavirus.
It adds: “The government will work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings (for example, nightclubs) where people are likely to be in close proximity to a large number of those from other households to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry.
“To support businesses, organisations and individuals in these settings, the NHS COVID Pass will be available through the NHS App, the NHS website, or as a letter that can be requested by ringing NHS 119.”
NHS Test and Trace login
Hospitality venues are “encouraged” to display an official NHS QR code poster- “although it’s not legally required to do so”.
The guidance adds that “this will support NHS Test and Trace to contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 so that they can book a test.”
The government are encouraging good ventilation in closed space- so expect doors and windows to be open in some venues.
The guidance reads: “Good ventilation brings fresh or cleaned air into indoor spaces.
“The more fresh air that is brought inside, the more diluted any airborne virus will become. In poorly ventilated spaces, residual virus can remain in the air after an infected person has left and increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading.”
Pubs have also been asked to identify poorly ventilated areas using a CO2 monitor.
Venues may also get creative with their outdoor space as they have been told to “encourage the use of outside space where practical, in particular for higher risk activity such as exercise or when people are singing or raising their voices.”
Screens and barriers are here to stay
The guidance recommends businesses to “install screens to minimise contact between workers operating cloakrooms and customers, where this would not impact on ventilation.”
And “install screens at points of service, for example at tills and counters, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading between front of house workers and customers.”
Looking forward to bar food and buffets at family parties? They may not be allowed in some venues.
Venues have been asked to “discourage customer self-service”.
Cleaning signs may still be on display
Venues are still being asked to “advise customers and workers to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser frequently”.
Tables and touched surfaces will also be “cleaned regularly” and the guidance says this is “particularly important before and after touching shared objects or surfaces that other people touch regularly”
Ordering at the bar
You will be able to come to the bar to order your drink from Monday- but make sure not to lean on it.
Businesses are being asked to “reduce the number of surfaces touched by both staff and customers.
“For example, ask customers not to lean on counters when placing orders.”
Staff rotas and ‘fixed team’ working
Social distancing measures will be axed- but the guidance still recommends reducing contact between staff.
This may include using ‘fixed teams’ or ‘partnering’.
Where possible, staff are encouraged to work on the same shifts as certain colleagues.
Paper condiments are here to stay
If you miss bottled ketchup you might be out of luck.
The guidance recommends “cleaning non-disposable condiment containers after each use”- but failing that “provide only disposable condiments.”