Coronavirus Business Support

Opening pubs, restaurants and cafes safely

In a phased reopening of businesses, restaurants, cafes and pubs can reopen from 4 July 2020. We have put together some helpful tips and guidance to help you reopen your premises safely.

Risk Assessment

All premises are required to carry out a Covid 19 risk assessment prior to reopening. Your risk assessment will help you understand the controls you need to put into place to maintain social distancing between customers, staff and colleagues and measures required to increasing cleaning of high contact surfaces to reduce the risk of transmission.

We have produced a checklist for smaller independent restaurants, pubs and cafes to help you complete this requirement which can be downloaded and used:

Our simplified cleaning guides can be found on our landing page advice to businesses preparing to reopen.


At this time, venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience. Whilst low background music can be played and screening of sports, but must be at a low level so that customers do not need to raise their voices to be heard or it should not encourage singing, chanting or congregating around screens. Singing and shouting increases the risk of aerosol transmission of Covid 19 therefore need to be avoided to reduce the risk. If you do decide play background music or screen sports you must ensure you have measures in place to control undesirable behaviour. You may also wish to check the sound level at the seats nearest to the speakers to ensure the volume is not too loud.

Use of outdoor spaces such as gardens and car parks

As with the inside of you premises tables and chairs should be planned and managed to maintain social distancing including being able to access seats for wheelchairs/push chairs whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines. If you have a large car park and wish to use part of this for outdoor seating then you will need to ensure you keep traffic and the public completely separate at all times.

If the weather changes you will need to consider it you will allow people back inside as the social distancing measures will need to be maintained, you should make it clear to customers beforehand if they will not be permitted move indoors if it rains. If you decide to provide covering or a gazebo you should ensure the sides remain open as much as possible to allow air flow. If smoking will be permitted in this area 50% of the sides must remain open. You must ensure any coverings are secure and do not require planning permission. All of this must be included in your health and safety risk assessment

Ensure you check your public liability insurance covers you especially if you intend to use different outside areas. 

There has been a change in licensing legislation which means that if you were only licensed for on-sales of alcohol you may now benefit from the ability to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises. If you were already licensed for on- and off-sales but had restrictions placed on your alcohol sales through licence conditions, some of your licence conditions may now be suspended and no longer apply. Certain limitations apply, such as how you are only permitted to supply off-sales during your normal licensed hours but not after 11pm, and that you don’t automatically benefit from this right if you have been disqualified from providing off-sales within the last 3 years. Read more information on these changes to licensing law.

Pavement Licenses

All premises are reminded that in order to place tables and chairs on the pavement for use by customers, you must hold a valid pavement licence issued by the council.  If you already hold a licence, please ensure that you only place tables and chairs outside during the times permitted by your licence.  Further details and how to apply.

Further government guidance on pavement licenses.

Taking contact details of customers

The government guidance states that reopening of businesses is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. We recommend that you obtain customer name, a contact detail (either number or email address) and note the date and time. You will require a Privacy notice you can use to explain to you customers why you are taking these details. You should ensure the details are kept securely so they cannot be seen by other customers and this information is not used for marketing purposes. . We know that you may already have booking systems in place for customer reservations and that you may use this information for marketing or sales purposes. You must be extremely careful not to use the data you collect for Test and Trace for any purpose other than providing data to the NHS Test and Trace system. It may be better to operate two distinct data collection systems to prevent any mistakes.

  • We have produced a template privacy notice you can download and use if required (*Please note it is just a template and you should ensure you understand your obligations under DPA (data processing agreement) and GDPR (general data protection regulations) notice

Reopening checks

There are several other areas you will need to do/consider before re-opening. These include checking equipment is safe and in good working order; carrying out the appropriate measures to prevent the risk of legionella developing in water systems that have remained dormant; ensuring you don’t have any issues with commercial waste or pests. You should also check your fire risk assessment is still current after you have put in place social distancing arrangements.

More information

For any further help of guidance which cannot be found on our website, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Community and Customer Services,
  • Watford Borough Council,
  • Town Hall, Watford, Hertfordshire WD17 3EX.
  • Tel: 01923 278503
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