Your Guide to the latest Covid-19 Guidance

Government advice on COVID-19 for hospitality

Updates to the Government guidance – Working Safely during Coronavirus (Covid-19) have been released.  

This information is correct at the time of publishing, we will endeavour to address any specific questions with Government and update this document as and when guidelines are updated.  

There are updates within the following sections of the document that are most pertinent to you:  

  • legal requirements for businesses (section 1)
  • mandatory table service at licenced venues (section 2.2)
  • mandatory face coverings for staff and customers (section 6.1)

Below is an overview of each update and how this relates to you.  

To address increasing virus transmission rates, from 24 September, the additional legal restrictions will apply.  


  • Businesses selling food or drink (including cafés, bars, pubs, restaurantsand takeaways) must be closed between 10pm and 5am.  

NCASS: staff who are cleaning and closing do not have to be off site by 10pm 

  • Delivery services (including drive-through service) are exempt and can continue after 10pm provided they are not allowing customers on the premises. 
  • Bars and cafés within open premises, such as hotels or theatres, must also close at 10pm 

Seating & table service 

  • In venues which sell alcohol, foodand drink – this must be ordered by, and served to, customers who are seated. This means that a business that sells alcohol must introduce systems to take orders and payment from seated customers, instead of at a bar or counter. This has been introduced to prevent crowding and social contact in licensed premises.  
  • All businesses selling food or drink must ensure that customers only consume food or drink while seated. This means that in unlicensed premises, food and drink can be purchased at a counter, but customers must sit down to consume it, even in outdoor settings. 

This means all food and drink (whether or not alcoholic) must be ordered from, served at and consumed by seated customers. A business that does not sell alcohol but sells food and drink for consumption on or near the premises, does not need to provide table service. However, food and drink must be consumed by customers while they are seated. 

For example, in a theatre or a cinema, a bar selling alcohol must only provide table service, and customers must be seated. A kiosk or counter that does not sell alcohol can sell food or drink over the counter, as long as they take reasonable steps to ensure customers will only consume the food or drink once seated. 

In some cases, both types of business or service may be offered separately within a single venue; for example, a theatre that has a bar selling alcohol on one floor and a kiosk on another floor that does not. In those circumstances, a kiosk which does not sell or supply alcoholic drinks will be able to sell food and soft drinks over the counter, provided it is wholly separate and distant from any place at which alcoholic drinks are sold or supplied. This includes offering the services from separate locations, using stewards and signs to ensure customers know the different rules, and ensuring the services are placed sufficiently far apart to enable staff to implement the rules and to avoid a breakdown of social distancing.’ (DCMS)  

  • For outdoor events – where some bars/kiosks/food stands are licensed and parts are not – the same applies. 

From 28 September, businesses will face stricter legal measures to make their premises COVID-secure – NCASS are asking for clarification on this.  

** In addition – customers do not need to wear masks at an outdoor event when not eating/drinking (the new rules apply to indoor settings only) ** 

NCASS examples:  

Roadside & permanent pitch: 

You do not need to provide seating or table service as your customers are taking away. If you have some seating in place you don’t need to provide table service. 

Caterer at a licensed premises:  

If you are a mobile caterer trading in a pub car park or garden etc. then table service should be applied in this instance. Whether this is the responsibility of the Licensee or yourself is an arrangement that you will have to make with the premises. You should discuss the logistics of this with the licensed venue you are trading from.  

Caterer at traditional market:  

If you are a part of a market trading as a takeaway and your customers are taking food away and not sitting down to eat it then you are exempt from this seating rule as long as you are not selling alcohol.  

Caterer at Street Food Market / Event:  

Unlicensed premises:  

Table service is not required – although customers must nevertheless consume food & drink while seated. Please remember that any queuing must still be controlled and safe. You should discuss the logistics of this with the event organiser.  

Licensed premises:  

Table service is required, and customers must consumer food & drink while seated. You should discuss the logistics of this with the event organiser.  

Track & Trace 

  • You should display an official NHS QR code poster from 24 September 2020, so that customers and visitors can ‘check-in’ using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details. Official NHS QR posters can be generated online.

NCASS: If you already have a track & trace system in place as part of a booking system or a stand-alone system, you can continue to implement this alongside displaying the NHS Track & Trace poster – we will update you as we get more information on this.  


  • There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from COVID-19.
  • By law, staff and customers of venues that provide food and drink will be required to wear a face covering, unless they have an exemption. All businesses must remind customers and staff to wear a face covering where required (for example by displaying posters). 
  • Your customers are expected to wear a face covering before entering your premises and must keep it on unless they are seated to eat or drink there is a reasonable excuse for removing it. 
  • A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers. Similarly, face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.
  • Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments. 
  • Face coverings are mandatory for customers in a number of indoor premises including at pubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and takeaways. Face coverings may be removed when seated to eat or drink in a pub, bar, restaurant or café. Customers must put a face covering back on once they have finished eating or drinking.  
  • Businesses should take reasonable steps to encourage customer compliance for example through in store communications or notices at the entrance. If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance. Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for their customers.
  • Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons. No one who is exempt from wearing a face covering should be denied entry if they are not wearing one. 
  • Employers must ensure all staff of venues that provide food and drink wear face coverings in areas that are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public, unless they have an exemption.

NCASS: This means that back of house staff do not have to wear a facemask 

  • Where face coverings are required for staff, businesses are expected to provide these as part of their health and safety obligations. However, staff are welcome to use their own face coverings if they choose.
  • If businesses have taken steps to create a physical barrier or screen between workers and members of the public then staff behind the barrier or screen will not be required to wear a face covering. Enforcement action can be taken if barriers and screens are in place which do not adequately mitigate risks.

NCASS: This means that food trucks / vans for example or indoor premises with serving counters that have a Perspex barrier between their staff and customers do not have to wear a facemask.

  • Businesses already have legal obligations to protect their staff under existing employment law. This means taking appropriate steps to provide a safe working environment, which may include providing face coverings where appropriate, alongside other mitigations such as screens and social distancing Businesses should advise workers how to use face coverings safely.

This means telling workers: 

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it 
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change or wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions; if it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste 
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions, and clear sound. 

Please be advised that the guidance although similar across the 4 nations, will need to be read individually:  

For England, click here

For Scotland, click here 

For Wales, click here 

For Northern Ireland, click here 

In you have any questions, please email – [email protected] 

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest industry news, updates, and insights.

By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms. www.ncass.org.uk/terms-conditions/