Table service rule will not apply to cafes and fast food
COFFEE shops, fast food outlets and other hospitality venues without an alcohol licence will be exempt from new mandatory table service rules, ministers have confirmed following widespread confusion.
Outlets that do not serve alcohol are to be spared from the new restrictions, which will require all pubs and licensed restaurants to take orders and deliver food and drink to the table from today onwards.
The clarification follows bafflement when Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, suggested yesterday morning that all hospitality outlets could be subject to the restrictions.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “In all of the restaurants and hospitality you can go in and order from the tables – what you can’t
‘It would have been helpful to have had a discussion with government before these guidelines came out’
do without a mask is just sit around and mill around. My understanding is that you need to be able to order from the tables. But of course the guidance will be very clear.”
Bosses are increasingly anxious about the new guidelines, with many warning they are still waiting for clarity just hours before the rules are set to be enforced by fines of up to £10,000.
All hospitality outlets must close at 10pm tonight, while staff in restaurants and pubs will be required to wear a face covering. Customers will also be asked to wear a mask, apart from when they are sitting at their table.
Ralph Findlay, chief executive of pub chain Marston’s, said it is still unclear how operators should interpret the rules for pub gardens and whether customers will be allowed to pay for orders at the bar.
He said: “To be honest it’s infuriating. It would have been incredibly helpful to have had a discussion with government before these guidelines came out so we knew what we were talking about and they knew what they were talking about.”