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Restaurant Goers and Staff Must Now Wear Masks During Dine-in Service

Diners can only take them off when “seated at a table for eating and drinking”

Two restaurant staff wear masks at Ombra in London Michaël Protin

Prime minister Boris Johnson has told the House of Commons that new restrictions on restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars could last for six months. These restrictions include the new 10p.m. curfew for hospitality businesses, and a new rule in which diners must wear masks in restaurants at all times, except when “seated at a table for eating and drinking.”

Johnson claimed that these measures are avoiding “more drastic action,” though did not explain why a curfew would lead to a significant reduction in the rate of coronavirus reproduction of the U.K. He said that takeaways, restaurants, pubs, and bars, alike would have to “close” at 10p.m., not offer last orders, but also said that kitchens would be able to remain open in order to fulfil deliveries.

These restaurant-specific announcements took place in the context of a rowing back of calls to return to offices and other workplaces, implicitly putting the two environments against each other in terms of their safety. If an office is not safe enough, why is a retail environment safe enough, the following question.

Labour leader Keir Starmer focussed on the fact that, if introduced for six months, these measures would take restaurants past the end of the coronavirus furlough scheme. U.K. Hospitality says 900,000 jobs are at risk with the withdrawal of furlough. Johnson evaded these questions, refusing to answer on the government’s plans for further financial support for restaurant businesses.