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23 April 2021 | Comment |

Licensed premises checklist: opening hospitality businesses in Wales from 26 April 2021

Welsh Government has confirmed that it is amending the Coronavirus regulations to allow pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and members’ clubs to re-open outdoors only from Monday 26April 2021.

In preparation, licensed premises should check that any outside bar facility is covered by an authorisation under the Licensing Act 2003 (“the Act”). This would involve checking the plan attached to your licence.

Welsh Government has produced a list of mitigations for opening outdoors which we’ve collated for you below.

Regulated premises must take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus including taking all reasonable measures to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements.


  • Businesses are required to undertake a deep clean before any re-opening after a prolonged period of closure and to take account of potential legionella issues. (Where mains water has been turned off since the close of the premises at lockdown, when it is reconnected it will need running through to flush away any microbiological or chemical residues built up while the water supply was disconnected). There should be thorough and regular cleaning of high contact touch points, toilets, tables etc throughout the course of the service in line with your risk assessed cleaning regime.
  • All businesses should implement rigorous cleaning and hygiene practices in between bookings and as required during service, to keep their premises safe.

Set up

  • All businesses must ensure customers are fully aware of their responsibilities for observing social distancing and all Covid-19 safety measures – using clear signage and other visual communications.
  • Each business must prepare and have available on site a specific full Covid-19 risk assessment, prepared in line with Welsh Government guidance, and staff must be consulted on the risk assessment. Risk assessments must be kept updated in line with latest guidance. Businesses should take account of the need to protect staff and offer individual risk assessments for staff who are at increased risk or classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
  • All businesses should set and display the maximum capacity for the premises (outdoor) and put in place measures for communicating and managing the maximum capacity set. This should form part of the specific Covid-19 risk assessment.
  • When utilising outdoor spaces, the use of physical coverings, awnings, gazebos or marquees should be implemented in such a way so as to ensure that they are aligned with current public health advice. The effects of sunlight, wind direction and intensity, social distance and effective handwashing should all be considered.
  • Specifically, if they are closed on all sides and roof/ceiling they are considered and treated as an internal environment and should be treated as such. In contrast if they are open-sided (at least 3 sides or more than 51% open as per the Smoke-Free Premises and Vehicles (Wales) Regulations 2020) they are to be considered and treated as an external environment. It is imperative that if marquees or similar are to be used they need to be part of the premises’ risk assessments included in cleaning regimes, and monitored so as to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements.
  • In all hospitality premises, it is mandatory to collect contact information for all staff and adults (over 18), customers or visitors. The person’s name, telephone number, date of visit and arrival and departure times must be collected and these records retained for 21 days. This can either be on paper or electronically but in either case must adhere to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Where there is a concern (for example, that the customers seem to be from more than two households, businesses should make efforts to satisfy themselves that the people present are from no more than two households and request verification of home address, such as a driving licence).
  • The NHS COVID-19 app does not substitute the above requirement and is not essential or mandated.
  • All businesses must maximise ventilation in indoor areas and enhance airflow by opening windows and propping open internal doors (but not fire doors) where possible.
  • Loud noises, which will require people to raise their voices or shout and therefore increase aerosol spread, must be avoided. To that end businesses should ensure that TV broadcasts and recorded music should be kept at background level. Dancing, singing and live performances are not permitted at this time.
  • Businesses should avoid shared activities in hospitality venues that would entail people breaching the rules on outdoor gatherings and would pose a hygiene risk. Businesses are under a duty to take reasonable measures to minimise risk. However, each proposed activity can be considered on its own merits. For example, a quiz maintaining separate groups and complying with the rules on gatherings and households (for example where each group collects a quiz sheet at the beginning of an evening and submits it at the end of the evening) would not necessarily constitute a gathering and could therefore be permissible.
  • Access to indoor toilets will be allowed to on-sale customers only, subject to adherence to cleaning and other protocols aimed at protecting staff and customers.


  • Staff should wear face coverings at all times unless they have an exemption from doing so. When moving about indoors, to walk through to the outdoor area or to go to the toilets, customers must always ensure they are wearing face coverings (unless they are under 11 or have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering). To safeguard staff and customers, businesses should consider asking customers to wear face coverings at all times outdoors, except when seated at a table, however this is not mandatory. Staff should be encouraged to temporarily remove their face coverings, whilst maintaining social distance, if required to assist someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.
  • All businesses must, where possible, deploy fixed teams of staff to reduce interactivity between team members including setting a maximum staff number, or space per staff member, in kitchens to allow for social distancing whilst taking into account the cramped nature of many kitchens. Businesses should also encourage new ways of working, adapting shift patterns and menus to significantly reduce the number of people working in kitchens at any one time.
  • Businesses should designate a named member or members of staff per shift (depending on number of covers) during all opening hours to monitor Covid-19 hygiene and enforcement of social distancing/safety protocols – acting as ‘Covid Secure Monitors’.


  • For all premises, the maximum number of people that can meet outdoors is up to 6 people and from no more than 2 households. This means that up to 6 people (not including children aged under 11 or a person who is caring for someone participating in such a gathering) from 2 different households can meet – and this should be a maximum not a target. A household means a group of people living in the same home. A household can be one person living on their own, flat-mates, or a family living in the same home, and may also include someone who has formed a support bubble with another household.
  • Where up to 6 people from 2 different households are seated together at a table, every effort should still be made by the business and the customer to ensure that they maximise distance at the table. The aim is to keep staff and customers safe and it is fully acknowledged that there is a vital role for the customer to play in adhering to social distancing requirements when on the premises. Bookings should not knowingly be taken for more than 6 people from 2 households or more by separating the party onto different tables.
  • Any person working indoors to serve customers and customers themselves when entering must wear face coverings whilst in the indoor public space unless they have an exemption. A queueing system that allows for 2 metre distancing must be in place and there must be signage at the entry point to advise of the indoor requirements. Customers can walk through indoor space to access outdoor space. All food and drink must be consumed in outdoor areas of the licensed premises.
  • All premises must ensure that where people are required to wait to enter the premises that a distance of 2 metres is maintained except between members of the same household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer. Businesses should implement one-way systems, where the building (and other legislation –such as Equality Act 2010) allows. Outside queues should be managed to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals, other businesses or additional security risks, for example by introducing queuing systems.

Food & drink

  • In premises authorised to sell or supply alcohol, there must be controlled entry. Controlled entry includes pre-booking wherever possible with details of all members of the group taken as part of the booking and verified on arrival. “Walk-ins” should be kept to a minimum and still subject to access through the controlled entry point with provision and verification of names of all members of the group at that point.
  • In premises authorised to sell or supply alcohol, customers must be seated outdoors at all times (anywhere other than at a bar) and only table service is permitted for ordering food or drink and when being served with food and drink and customers must be seated outdoors when consuming food and drink. Licensed premises are also encouraged to use smartphone apps for customers to order and pay for food to minimise contact between staff and customers. If paying at the counter, social distancing must be maintained including the use of face coverings. In unlicensed premises, customers can order and pay at the counter subject to maintaining social distancing and using face coverings, but must consume food and drink at their table.
  • Where licensed premises provide food on a buffet basis, food should be physically put on the plate by staff rather than customers. Customers may select food from the buffet, be served from the buffet zone and return to where they are seated provided a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons at the buffet (except between two members of the same household, or carer and the person assisted by the carer). When the customer selects food from the buffet, a face covering should be worn to approach the buffet and hand sanitiser used. In order to minimise contact with high touch utensils, customers should not serve themselves from the buffet. Rigorous cleaning regimes should be maintained around the buffet area.

If you have any specific enquiries about your premises, please contact Nicola Jordan on 02922 675922 or [email protected].

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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