Pubs and restaurants to open indoors from May 17 – with new rules for outside

Pubs and restaurants in England are still expected to reopen indoors from Monday May 17, in step three of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, despite discussions of a potential delay in some areas.

Boris Johnson formally signed off the return of indoor socialising and dining from May 17 at a Downing Street press conference that took place on May 10.

That means six people or two households will be able to mix inside, and pubs and restaurants can restart indoor dining.

However, due to the number of cases of the Indian variant having doubled in the past week, there is the potential of local lockdowns being reintroduced in some hotspot areas. Up to 10 million second doses could be brought forward following discussions between the government and experts to prevent any changes to the lockdown roadmap.

The Prime Minister said on May 13: “If we have to do other things, then of course the public would want us at this stage to rule nothing out. We have always been very clear we would be led by the data.

“At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21, everywhere, but there may be things that we have to do locally and we will not hesitate to do them if that is the advice we get.”

Here is all you need to know before indoor hospitality reopens in England.

When will pubs reopen?

Pubs and restaurants in England reopened their beer gardens and outdoor spaces on April 12.

From Monday May 17, venues will be allowed to offer indoor dining for groups of six people or two households.

What restrictions will there be?

When pubs and restaurants open for indoor dining, it will be with table service only; customers won’t be able to order from the bar.

Drinkers and diners must comply with a toughening of the test and trace rules, which previously only required one person from each group to register their attendance on the NHS Covid app.

All customers must now check-in under the new regulations, allowing the NHS to more easily contact anyone who may have been in contact with someone infected with the virus.

Boris Johnson had previously indicated that coronavirus vaccine certificates could be introduced by pubs at the discretion of landlords, but confirmed in his announcement on Apr 5 that Covid status certification, as the Government is calling it, will not be required in stage three of the roadmap, when venues can serve customers inside.

The Government defines Covid certificates or passports as something that can show you have had either a jab, a negative test, or antibodies. It could turn one of the NHS smartphone apps into a digital Covid passport, meaning you can carry around with you proof of vaccination, a test, or antibodies.

How many people will be allowed to drink together?

When hospitality venues open their indoor spaces from May 17, guests must observe the rule of six, which allows half a dozen people from different households to meet – or more if they come from two different households.

Outside from that date, people will be able to meet in larger groups in beer gardens or when dining al fresco – up to 30 people.

Until then, the rule of six (or two households) remains the limit for drinking and dining outdoors.

Will there still be a 10pm curfew and substantial meal rule?

No, in both cases. The 10pm curfew that was introduced across the hospitality industry in 2020 was scrapped when venues reopened.

The so-called Scotch egg rule has also been ditched; there will be no requirement for customers to order a substantial meal with their drink. This will come as a relief to MPs as well as customers, after ministers caused confusion over what constituted a “substantial” meal.

Are the rules different in Scotland and Wales?

Pubs, restaurants, bars and cafés in Scotland can open outdoors until 10pm and are permitted to serve alcohol; indoors, no alcohol can be served and venues must close at 8pm. Up to four people from two different households can meet.

From May 17, the number will increase to eight people from eight households outdoors, and six from three different households indoors.

In Wales, pubs, restaurants, bars and cafés are also open outdoors, and from May 17 will offer indoor service for tables of up to four people from up to four different households.

What does Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown mean for pubs?

Venues with beer gardens or access to an outside space have benefited from the al fresco arrangement, but the delay to reopening for those that can only offer indoor service (an environment with a higher risk of the virus spreading) has caused owners to fear for the future of their businesses.

Read more: ‘I’m opening a completely different pub to two summers ago’ – landlady Michelle Utz reveals the challenges of opening on Freedom Day

What are you most looking forward to doing in June, if Covid restrictions have been lifted? Tell us in the comments section below