COVID-19 Guidance for Licensed Premises

On 23 June 2020, the Prime Minister announced that pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels in England could open from 4 July 2020 as social distancing measures will shortened to a 1+ metre distance. Other businesses allowed to reopen are hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and caravan parks. However, nightclubs, discos, dance halls and sexual entertainment venues must remain closed at this time. 

  • Working safely during COVID-19

    The Government has published guidance in relation to working safely during the coronavirus pandemic. This guidance will be updated over time, and will be useful for businesses as they develop new ways of working or to help prepare for the time when they are able to reopen.

    Key actions that must be taken to protect staff and customers are as follows:

    • Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and share it with your staff. 
    • Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
    • Ask your customers to wear face coverings where required to do so by law; namely when not sat down at a table whilst consuming food and/or drink. Some exemptions apply
    • Make sure that everybody is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one way system that your customers can follow. Enable people in the same party who do not live together to remain a safe distance apart.
    • Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times. 
    • Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all your customers for 21 days. From 18 September 2020, this is enforceable by law. Find out more about information that must be collected, and the requirement to display an official NHS QR code
    • Let customers know that by law they can only visit in groups of up to 6 people (unless they are visiting as a household or support bubble which is larger than 6). This applies indoors and outdoors. COVID-19 secure venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups.
    • Ensure that staff wear face coverings. This is required by law where staff are in customer facing areas, unless an exemption applies. 
    • Close the premises to customers between 10pm (22:00) and 5am (05:00). This is required by law. Delivery services can continue after 10pm. 
    • Ensure that all customers remain seated. Prevent social contact by ensuring that customers sit down to eat and drink at the venue (this is required by law). If you have a licence to sell alcohol, you must provide table service only i.e. all orders and payments must be taken from seated customers, instead of at a bar or counter. This applies to both indoor and outdoor areas of the premises.
    • Keep groups apart by spacing out tables and managing the number of customers in the venue. 
    • Manage food and drink service safely by avoiding situations where customers need to collect their own cutlery and condiments from elsewhere in the venue.
    • Lower music and other background noise, such as broadcasts of live sport. Customers must be discouraged from shouting, singing and dancing in the venue. 

    The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into effect on 28 September 2020. The regulations outline a number of mandatory obligations that apply to business owners of public houses, cafes, restaurants and bars (including bars in hotels and members' clubs). The key points are as follows: 

    • No bookings should be taken for a group of more than 6 persons, unless one of the limited exemptions applies.
    • No persons should be admitted to the premises in groups of more than 6, unless one of the limited exemptions applies. 
    • You must take all reasonable measures to prevent singing on the premises by customers in groups of more than 6 persons. 
    • You must take all reasonable measures to prevent dancing by customers (unless an exemption applies, i.e. the first dance between the happy couple at a wedding reception).
    • Music must not be played at above 85db(A) when measured at source, aside from live music. However, guidance advises that live music should still be played at low levels. 
    • You must display a notice in a clearly visible place, or take other measures, to ensure that people entering the premises are aware of the requirement to wear a face covering unless an exemption applies. Reasonable measures may include:
      • Displaying a notice asking people to wear face coverings when not seated at a table to eat and drink. This includes entering and exiting the premises, and walking around the premises to access facilities such as toilets.
      • Ask people to wear a face covering if they are seen not wearing one
      • Deny them access to the premises (if you are confident that one of the exemptions does not apply) 

    Links to Government guidance can be found below:

    The Government has also published guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England. This is regularly updated as businesses/venues are gradually able to re-open.

    The Government regularly updates its guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing).

    The Health and Safety Executive has a COVID-19 risk assessment template available on their website.

  • NHS Test and Trace

    To help control the spread of coronavirus, the Government has announced a new legal requirement for certain venues to display official NHS QR code posters to support the NHS COVID-19 app being launched - part of the national coronavirus testing and contact tracing programme.

    The NHS COVID-19 app will provide people with information about the risk level for coronavirus in their local area, alert them if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, and has a built-in QR scanner which people who download the app will use to easily and securely ‘check-in’ at venues.

    Displaying NHS QR code posters to support the NHS COVID-19 app will be a legal requirement from 24 September for all venues open to the public which are already being asked to use a logbook for Test and Trace. Businesses and venues which need to display an NHS QR code COVID-19 poster from 24 September are:

    • hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
    • tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas and amusement arcades
    • close contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors
    • facilities provided by local authorities, including community centres, libraries and village halls

    A full list of organisations within scope in these sectors can be found in annex A to the guidance. Guidance has also been published on the information that must be collected.

    The official NHS QR code poster for businesses and venues

    • The NHS QR code poster will allow customers to check into venues in a simple and secure way
    • Each business will need to generate posters for their venue online and print them off to display at their premises.
    • Each QR code is unique to a location, so if your business operates from more than one venue, please create a separate QR code for each location. You can add multiple locations in the service.
    • Advice on how to create and where to display your NHS QR code poster is available here
    • Any venue that has already set up their own QR code system for Test and Trace is asked to replace it with an official NHS QR code poster
    • Businesses will still need to keep an additional contact information log for customers who do not have access to the NHS COVID-19 app and cannot scan the QR code posters.

    What this means for your customers and visitors

    The NHS COVID-19 app will alert customers if they have recently visited a venue or business where a coronavirus case has been confirmed and will instruct them to isolate – the app will only instruct the person to book a test if they have symptoms.

    • The alert will be anonymous, meaning it will not name the exact venue or service.
    • A week-long national information campaign will begin on 24 September to let people know about the COVID-19 app and how to use it to scan QR code posters to check in at venues
    • As designated business and venues will be legally required from 24 September to log customer and visitor details and display an official NHS QR code poster, you will need to:
      • check when customers enter your premises that they have either scanned your QR code poster or provided their contact details for you to manually log
      • if there is more than one person, record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group (maximum of 6)
      • if the person/lead member refuses to provide their contact details by scanning your QR code poster or providing details for manual logging, you will need to deny them access to your venue or risk facing a fine.

    Further information on the NHS COVID-19 app and QR code posters

  • Events and entertainment 

    Indoor Entertainment

    The Government confirmed that from 15 August 2020, indoor theatres and music and performance venues can reopen with socially distanced audiences. Venues should follow the updated guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants.

    Guidance for restaurants, pubs and bars has also been updated to permit indoor entertainment such as recorded music, live sports broadcasts, quizzes, live musicians and comedians. However, section 4.5 of the guidance states that these activities should continue to take place outdoors wherever possible. 

    The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into effect on 28 September 2020. They require a person responsible for carrying on a business of a public house, café, restaurant or bar (including a bar in a hotel or members’ club) to take all reasonable measures to stop - 

    • Singing on the premises by customers in groups of more than 6; or
    • Dancing on the premises by customers. There are certain exemptions in relation to dancing at wedding ceremonies and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions.

    Additionally, the new Regulations require that no music is played on premises which exceeds 85db(a) when measured at the source of the music. This new decibel limit does not apply to the performance of live music, but this should still be played at low levels where possible to reduce the risk of customers singing/shouting over the music. 

    Weddings and Civil Partnerships

    From 28 September 2020, no more than 15 people can legally attend a marriage or civil partnership. This is the maximum number for all attendees at the event, including the couple and guests. Anyone working is not included as part of the legal limit. Receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships can continue to take place, but only in the form of a sit down meal in a COVID-19 secure venue. No more than 15 people may attend. Such receptions must not take place in people’s private homes (or adjoining outdoor spaces like gardens), given that these will not have the same COVID-19 secure measures in place.

    Outdoor Events

    The Events Indutsry Forum has published a guidance document relating to operating outdoor events safely. The document is available to everyone, but you do need to register to gain access. Registration is free. 

  • Consumption of food and drink outdoors

    Alcohol 'Off Sales'

    The Government allowed premises to re-open from 6am on 4 July 2020 and have issued guidance on how they can do so safely.

    From 22 July 2020 the Business and Planning Act 2020 temporarily modified the Licensing Act 2003 in order to provide for an automatic extension to the terms of most premises licences which only permit the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises, to allow for the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises.

    The new off-sales permission allows off-sales to be made at a time when the licensed premises are open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises, subject to a cut off time of 11pm or the closure time of an existing outside area, whichever is earlier. Measures also temporarily suspend existing licence conditions in so far as they are inconsistent with the new off-sales permission.

    Conditions on existing dual premises licences (permitting both on-sales and off-sales) that would prevent one or more of the following are also suspended under the temporary off-sales permission:

    • off-sales being made at a time when the premises are open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises (subject to a cut off time of 11pm or the closure time of an existing outdoor area, whichever is earlier,
    • off-sales being sold in an open container; and,
    • deliveries to buildings used for residential or work purposes.

    The permission and any conditions attached to it are temporary. The permission will lapse on 30 September 2021, unless the temporary period is extended by regulations made by the Secretary of State or is otherwise suspended, removed or varied.

    You are not required to change either your licence or your summary to show that you are taking advantage of the permission, however you must prepare what is called ‘a Section 172F Statement’ and details of what is required to be included in this can be found within the Government guidance issued for this matter. A template for a Section 172F Statement can also be downloaded here

    The Section 172F Statement must be kept under the control of the premises licence holder or a person who works at the premises who has been nominated by the premises licence holder for this purpose. A copy of the Section 172F Statement must be prominently displayed at the premises alongside the summary of your premises licence. 


    • You will not be able to benefit from this new permission if ‘off sales’ have been refused or removed from your Premises Licence I the last three years.
    • Businesses which hold a Premises Licence for only the provision of regulated entertainment and/or late nigh refreshment cannot benefit from this new permission.
    • Members clubs which undertake licensable activities under a Club Premises Certificate, rather than a Premises Licence, cannot benefit from this new permission.
    • This new permission does not permit businesses to install additional or pop-up bar serveries in outdoor areas; this activity would require an application to vary the Premises Licence.

    Pavement Licences

    The Business and Planning Act 2020 also introduced a new, temporary application process for obtaining ‘pavement licences’ to permit furniture to be placed on the highway. The new process aims to support businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars in operating safely whilst social distancing, and provide much needed income for the hospitality industry.

    Full details of the application process can be found on our Pavement Licences webpage.

  • Validity of Licences / Permits

    The following guidance has been developed by Winchester City Council’s Licensing Team, to assist licensees with ensuring the suitability and validity of their various licences and permits.

    Premises Licences and Club Premises Certificates

    • Is the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) still working at the premises? If not, you must submit an application to specify a new DPS to the licensing authority. You cannot sell alcohol without a DPS in effect (unless your premises is exempt under Section 41 D (3) of the Licensing Act 2003).
    • Has the premises changed hands during lockdown, or has the operating company changed its name or address? If so, you may need to submit an application to transfer the Premises Licence, or notify us of a change of name or address.
    • Has the annual fee for the Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate been paid? If not, the licence may be suspended. Contact the Licensing Team if you’re unsure about this, or are having any difficulty paying the annual fee.
    • Check the conditions listed on your Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate and ensure that you are able to comply with these ready for re-opening. If you anticipate any difficulties with complying with conditions, please contact the Licensing Team as soon as possible to discuss this. You may have to submit an application to vary the Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate, to remove or re-word certain conditions.

    Gaming Machines and Permits

    • Has the premises changed hands during lockdown? If so, your automatic entitlement to provide 2 or less gaming machines will have lapsed. This will require a new notification before gaming machines can be made available to customers again.
    • If you have a Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permit, Club Machine Permit or Club Gaming Permit, has the annual fee been paid? If not, the permit(s) will have automatically lapsed and a new application will be required.
    • In relation to cleaning of gaming machines, licenses are advised to follow Public Health England’s guidance on cleaning regularly touched surfaces.

Winchester City Council's COVID-19 Business Support page is regularly updated with current advice and information.

If you have any specific queries in relation to compliance for licensed premises during this time, please do not hesitate to contact the Licensing Department.