COVID-19 - Advice on national restrictions for businesses

National restrictions are in force in England from 4 January 2021. Suffolk is currently in National lockdown: Stay at Home. This means there are further restrictions in place.  For more information visit GOV.UK - National lockdown: stay at home and GOV.UK - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. You should follow this guidance immediately. This is the law.

Hospitality venues like restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs are restricted in what they can do:

  • They may remain open for takeaway services for food and non-alcoholic drinks between 5am and 11pm.
  • Sale of alcohol is permitted via pre-order for delivery services only.
  • 11pm to 5am takeaway is via delivery or drive through only. When an order is ready a member of staff can deliver the order to a vehicle as long as the occupants of the vehicle do not get out. Businesses should therefore only take orders online or by telephone during this time.

Retail shops may offer click and collect services:

For more information visit GOV.UK - National lockdown: Stay at home - Businesses and venues

Operating in a COVID Secure manner

Businesses and venues are required under health and safety legislation to follow the appropriate COVID-19 Secure guidance for their sector.

There is sector-specific guidance on making sure businesses and venues that are permitted to open can operate safely and provide a safe workplace for those who are not able to work from home. There is also information for businesses and venues that are closed, to help you plan and prepare to reopen safely when legally permitted to do so.

All businesses should demonstrate to their workers and attendees that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate it, for example by publishing their risk assessment online or making it available at the premises/event.

Businesses and venues must also take reasonable steps to ensure that social contact rules are followed within their venues: Legislation.gov.uk - The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) Regulations 2020

In particular, those operating venues or running events following COVID-19 Secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent large gatherings of people which risk a breakdown of social distancing rules.

Steps to reopening

The Government have announced a reopening plan with various steps in place to ease the lifting of restrictions. Although the lockdown is still in place at present the following advice is offered for businesses reopening when able to do so.

  • Step 1 of the plan is aimed at return to education on 8 March 2021 and 29 March ease of outside contact.
  • Step 2 on 12 April 2021 will have the most impact on businesses.

In light of this we would suggest you look at the food safety page for further food advice. Eating outside will be an option too and the following advice is given. 

Outside eating areas

With the lockdown restrictions possibly easing on 12 April, outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including in member’s clubs) can reopen, including for takeaway alcohol. Customers are allowed to eat and drink, while seated. Any outside structures used to provide shelter for customers must adhere to the requirements on being less than 50% substantially enclosed (as detailed in the smoke free legislation). Being outside in the ‘fresh air’ is the important part of this ease up of the restrictions. This means if a structure has a roof then it must have two ‘walls’ or less in order to comply.

Substantially Enclosed: This would be a structure (with a roof or ceiling) with an opening in the walls, where the opening would make up less than half of the area of the total wall space. (including other structures that serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of the premises) doors and windows are not classed as gaps. 

Risk assessment for coronavirus - practical points to consider

Employers and self-employed people need to carry out a risk assessment to identify what needs to be done to protect workers and others from the risk of coronavirus.

When carrying out the risk assessment you need to:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • identify who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation that places someone at risk, or if this is not possible, identify what can be done to control the risk

If you have fewer than five employees, you do not have to write anything down, but it is good practice if you do. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has guidance on H&S ABC – an easy guide to health and safety. as well as Health and Safety made simple, both includes advice on risk assessments.

There is also further HSE guidance: Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak.

For the Government's latest guidance on the collection of personal details and how to maintain records of staff, customers and visitors to businesses in support of NHS Test and Trace, please go to: Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace

Re-opening your business and Legionella risk

When buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present because of the reduced occupancy and use buildings have had during lockdown. Legionella guidance has been specially written by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) for businesses so that they know about the risk and what to do about it before reopening their business.

Please contact us if you have any further queries email: food&safety@westsuffolk.gov.uk phone: 01284 757400

Pavement licenses (amended 24 July 2020)

Applications are open in West Suffolk for temporary pavement licences to help cafés, restaurants and pubs trade during COVID-19 and keep people safe.

The move by West Suffolk Council follows new legislation just agreed by Government to ease previous restrictions on putting items such as tables and chairs outside premises for the sale of food or drink for consumption.

A fast track process has been introduced so premises can apply, relevant consultees can have their say and a decision made in a much shorter time. Government allows councils to charge up to £100 to apply but West Suffolk Council has agreed during this time to make the process free. More information can be found at Street trading and vending

Page last updated:

23 March 2021