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What the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ Policy Means for Restaurants in London

Restaurants are still able to deliver food. Collected takeaway became a little more complicated

Spitalfields Affected By Coronavirus In London Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images

Following prime minister Boris Johnson’s televised address to the nation last night in which he told Britons to “stay at home” for a minimum of three weeks, the government has published new official guidance outlining strict new measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the country.

In newly published official government guidance, in which restaurants are among those businesses and premises which must remain closed.

An exception is included in the official document, stating “food delivery and takeaway can remain operational.”

Johnson stated: “You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine — and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.”

Regarding cafes, including workplace canteens, the document states, similarly, “food delivery and takeaway can remain operational.” Further exceptions included are cafés or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; and services providing food or drink to the homeless. Pubs and bars meanwhile are included as having to close, without any stated exception.

“Travelling to and from work...only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home,” was permitted, Johnson said.

What this means for restaurants in practice therefore is not altogether clear, with restaurant and hospitality staff left wondering how their work was now categorised. If they are working to provide food delivery, the logic follows that they can travel to work to carry out this duty.

The aim of the measures is to further limit social contact and for as few Londoners as possible to, for example, travel on public transport. With that in mind and with Londoners’ movements further restricted, some businesses have acted to completely shut down their operation, including those who only a week ago recast themselves as delivery and collection services. Within the last 24 hours, the Marksman, together with Dishoom, and the Noble Fine Liquor group (P. Franco, Bright, and Peg) have ceased trading even for food delivery. Singburi in Leytonstone has just announced it will close but for special collection-orders only.


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