Table ser­vice rule will not ap­ply to cafes and fast food

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley

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.”

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