Opening Your Pub after Lockdown

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Opening Your Pub after Lockdown

The gloriously sunny weather might have passed for the time being, but the general public is undeniably excited for the re-opening of pubs from Saturday 4th July. 

Pubs aren’t usually considered the ideal venue for social distancing and avoiding close contact, so how can you modify your business to protect your staff and customers?

The Covid-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdown has had an immeasurable effect on SMEs, but especially pubs and other businesses in the hospitality sector. 

The prospect of opening your pub is an undoubtedly daunting task that may cause concern amongst all individuals involved, but with a thorough risk assessment and well-executed plan it is entirely possible to begin opening up your business to customers once more.

Reservations Only

Ideally you should be operating on a reservations-only basis, especially as initial demand upon re-opening pubs is expected to be particularly high. 

Under normal circumstances most pubs could allow guests to fill their premises as they pleased. 

Realistically, all pubs will have to reconsider their operating capacity and change the layout of their seating to ensure social distancing between different parties is maintained.

Consider investing in a booking software on your website or app that allows customers to book slots independently, therefore allowing both your business and your customers to plan more efficiently. Offering blocks of two hours or more will ensure your staff have time to clean each table properly between guests.

Table Service

To avoid crowds gathering at the bar, pubs should only trade using table service and must space different groups at least one (but ideally two) metres apart from each other. 

Venues must ensure that groups visit according to government policies- at the moment this means people should only visit a pub in their household group or support bubble, or in conjunction with a maximum of only one other household.

Ordering via App

Many pubs and other hospitality venues are turning to mobile apps to reduce close contact between staff and customers, alongside the added benefit of eliminating the contact point of physical menus.

 Accepting payments through an ordering app or contactless card instead of cash is another method of easily eliminating a potentially nasty contact point. 

Many franchises are setting up their own apps, or businesses can approach a third-party app development company to use their software.

Track & Trace

The NHS’ Track and Trace teams are now up and running.

 Pubs should therefore request customers to complete a Track and Track form during or after their visit, which includes their name, contact information, date and time of visit, and their table number. 

This only needs to be stored securely for 21 days but is vital for identifying potential secondary infections, should one of your customers test positive for Covid-19 or develop symptoms.

Protect Your Staff

Only essential staff should be present on site, so those in non-customer facing roles should be encouraged to work at home if possible. Workers who need to self-isolate, or are clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable  should be protected and accommodated for with remote working tasks. It’s easy to become swept up in your pub’s onsite activity, make sure you keep in touch with those working off-site to monitor their physical and mental wellbeing. 

The charity MIND and NHS’ Every Mind Matters Campaign both have excellent information and practical guidance.

Kitchen and bar space should be carefully considered to ensure staff can keep a safe distance apart from each other, even if this means you have to simplify your menu offering. Back-to-back rather than side-to-side working is always preferable, and screens should be provided if workers cannot avoid working in close proximity.

It’s also advisable to create teams of staff in order to reduce the level of contact between individuals. Nonetheless, arrival, departure, and break times should be staggered to further reduce this risk. 

Close contact communication can also be reduced by using radios or telephones to deliver orders and tasks between kitchen, bar, and wait staff, with thorough cleaning between uses.


Every venue will need a unique plan to combat the hazard identified in its risk assessment, but there are some universal principles to be mindful of:

  • Implement one-way systems in staff and customer areas of the pub.
  • Display clear signage for one-way systems and hygiene procedures, such as instructions on proper hand washing.
  • Offer hand sanitising stations throughout all areas of your space.
  • Introduce increase staff hand washing, especially before and handling any objects used by customers or other workers.
  • PPE is still reserved for clinical settings, but staff and guests may wish to wear a face covering to protect other individuals.
  • Review the procedure and hygiene of incoming and outgoing deliveries.
  • Enhanced, regular cleaning of all areas within the pub, paying particular attention to areas with frequent contact between different parties, such as toilets, tables, and door handles.

It is also really important to make sure you maintain good communication with customers and staff. 

Post any rules and procedures on your website, social media channels, within your guests’ booking confirmations, and to all staff- transparency is key in developing strong customer and staff relationships during these challenging times. Full government advice and rules can be found online, which give further details to the tips provided here.

If your pub features a restaurant section you may also benefit from reading our re-opening guide for restaurants, and be sure to read the government’s guidelines on food hygiene during Covid-19. Your business might even be eligible for financial aid from the government, so be sure to read through our guide for small businesses dealing with Covid-19..

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

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