In addition to a 10pm closing time for pubs, restaurants and cafés, hospitality businesses are also required to enforce the ‘Rule of 6’ and display NHS QR codes to gather customer contact details for Test and Trace.
For failing to comply with new rules aimed at curtailing rising coronavirus infections nationwide, businesses can face fines of up to £4000. Rules also extend to close contact services such as hair dressers and beauty salons, as well as leisure venues.
The majority of businesses in the sector have made a consistent efforts to put Covid-secure measures in place voluntarily, including collecting customer details to supply to contact tracing staff in the event of an outbreak of the virus. The new legal requirement will now make these measures compulsory, ahead of the roll-out of a new mobile app for individuals to check-in at premises voluntarily and be notified of possible exposure to outbreaks more quickly.
The Rule of 6 legislation prevents any social gatherings of more than six individuals, with exceptions including for workplaces and certain sporting activities. Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in England will now need to take bookings of no more than 6 people, ensure people are not meeting in groups of more than 6 people on their premises, and make sure there is sufficient space between tables, either two metres, or one metre with mitigation measures such as plastic screens.
The regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities, who will have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for venues that are failing to comply, or the police as a last resort. Fines will rise to up to £4,000 for repeat offenders.
Businesses will be expected to make sure their customers are aware of the rules around QR codes by displaying posters and speaking to customers directly.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said:
It is vital we do all we can to control the spread of the virus. Businesses have already stepped up to ensure they are supporting the NHS Test and Trace effort, and it is essential contact logs and displaying NHS QR codes are mandatory so there is consistency across the country and the public can seamlessly provide their details.
Venues should record and maintain contact details logs for customers, visitors and staff, and they should also download an official NHS QR code poster for their premises ahead of the launch of the NHS COVID-19 app.
With cases rising, it is vital NHS Test and Trace continues to reach as many people as possible to prevent further transmission of the virus. Businesses have a duty to ensure this function is in place, and those not complying will face fines.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
With cases on the rise, each and every one of us needs to play our part to control the virus and to save lives.
Businesses up and down the country have taken great steps to welcome customers back safely, but at this critical moment in the fight against the virus, we need to take these tough measures to reduce the risk of another national lockdown in the future.
In order to keep these venues open and protect jobs, it is absolutely vital that businesses comply with these new regulations and make sure their customers are following the rules.
Businesses can create a QR code poster for their venue on the Gov.uk website.