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What does the second national lockdown mean for restaurants in England?

5 November 2020 Small Business Advice

As cases of Coronavirus have increased, England will go into lockdown for one month from midnight on Wednesday, 4 November 2020. This means, like the previous Spring lockdown, all non-essential shops will close, along with restaurants, bars, cafes, hair salons and most leisure centres. 

Information on the lockdown has been slightly confusing, leaving business owners wondering just what exactly the rules are. 

To make things a little easier, we’ve rounded up all of our knowledge on this lockdown, related specifically to the hospitality sector.

When does the lockdown officially start?

The lockdown officially starts at midnight on Wednesday, 4 November. But, because restaurants and bars are already under a 10 pm curfew, the lockdown will officially begin from then.

When will the lockdown end?

The lockdown is scheduled to end on Wednesday, 2 December. However, this is not guaranteed and could well be extended depending on the number of COVID-19 cases.

What happens to restaurants after lockdown is lifted?

This all depends on the rate level in your area. It is believed that for now, UK regions will revert to tiered guidelines that existed before lockdown. For example, London will go back to tier 2 restrictions meaning 10 pm curfews for restaurants still.

Can you still serve diners on Wednesday night?

Yes, absolutely. You may even consider opening earlier to make the most of the last day of trading. 

But remember that the government-provided tier rules still apply to bars and restaurants, so only members of the same household can sit indoors together. No more than six people from different households can mix, even outdoors.

What happens on Thursday?

All restaurants across the UK will be closed for dine-in. There are no exemptions.

Who is responsible for closure during lockdown?

The owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business is legally responsible for ensuring the business fulfils the lockdown obligations.

How is the lockdown being enforced?

In England, the lockdown is being supervised by Environmental Standards Agency Officers and the police if needed. Businesses and venues that breach restrictions will potentially be subject to prohibition notices or fines.

Can restaurants transition into deliveries?

Restaurants are legally permitted to deliver takeaway food and alcohol. 

Can you sell takeaway alcoholic beverages?

 It was widely debated. However, the government has made a very last-minute U-turn decision, meaning that pubs and restaurants can legally sell ‘takeaway pints’ and other alcoholic drinks.

Will restaurants be able to ‘furlough’ staff during this lockdown?

Yes. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ (CJRS), which was previously referred to as the furlough scheme. This means that the government will continue to pay 80% of the employees’ salary. This is expected to last up until the end of the lockdown. 

Do restaurant owners need to pay any of their employees’ salary?

Employers will pay national insurance and employer pension contributions. They can also opt to top up the extra 20% of their employees’ salary – however, this is not mandatory. 

Can restaurants apply for any other financial support during this lockdown?

Yes. Aside from the previous financial schemes and support, businesses can apply for local specific business grants. Find out more about this and other support on the government website

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