What rules will we have to follow when pubs reopen in April?

Suffolk's pub of the year

People will only be able to eat and drink outside if the April 12 easing goes ahead. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

From April 12 we'll finally be able to enjoy a meal or drink outside at our favourite pubs and restaurants.

Hospitality will begin to open its doors from April, before fully reopening inside from May 17.

But what rules will be in place when we return?

Who can I visit with?

Rules on social gatherings will not change at this stage - people will still only be able to meet up in groups of six or as two households.

No indoor mixing will be allowed.

Where can I sit?

The opening only extends to outdoor areas and includes beer gardens and other outside seating areas. For some restaurants this will include car parks, which many have filled with tables and chairs to increase capacity.

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Plenty of restaurants have bought marquees to protect diners from the great British weather. But to qualify as an outside space, it must not be substantially enclosed. For many this will mean having the sides open. So you might not get wet - but may still want to bring a jacket.

In March, the government relaxed rules around temporary outdoor spaces for bars, pubs, cafés and restaurants, meaning they will no longer need to apply for planning permission for gazebos and marquees.

Do I have to order food with a drink?

No - the requirement to order a substantial meal alongside an alcoholic drink will be scrapped.

In autumn, when the tiers system was introduced, people had to order a meal to also order a drink. It was a quickly criticised - and ridiculed - rule, with debate centering on Scotch eggs and whether they passed the substantial meal test.

Will there be a curfew?

No - the 10pm curfew, which was later to changed to 11pm, has been scrapped.

The spacious beer garden at the Last Pub Standing Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The beer garden at the Last Pub Standing. - Credit: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Can I move about the restaurant freely?

Afraid not. Customers will have to order, eat and drink while seated. 

And when you are moving about the restaurant - being shown to a table or using the toilet, for example - you'll still need to wear a mask.

And what about social distancing?

Social distancing guidelines remain in place, so tables will be spaced out, many restaurants will retain their one-way systems and capacity will be lower.

Hand sanitiser is likely to be available 

Will I need a vaccine passport?

No. The government has said it may consider introducing vaccine certification in the coming months, but those plans are still a long way off.

The new normal, how life is now after Covid-19 restrictions have been eased. The hand sanitising sta

Restaurants and pubs have had one-way systems and hand sanitiser since the first lockdown eased. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020