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What You Can and Can’t Do in a Restaurant From 17 May

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What the new COVID-19 restrictions mean for dining out in London

Though the dining room has been closed since March, Singburi has served takeaway customers via collection throughout the pandemic Michaël Protin/Eater London

England will progress to the next stage of its coronavirus lockdown reopening “roadmap” on 17 May, when restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopen for indoor service. Here’s what that means for dining out in the city:


Outdoor dining coronavirus rules from 17 May

  • Can people living in the same household eat or drink together at the same table outside
    Yes.
  • Can people in the same support bubble eat or drink together at the same table outside?
    Yes.
  • Can people from separate households or support bubbles eat or drink together at the same table outside?
    Yes, provided the total booking is no greater than thirty people.
  • Can people from separate households or support bubbles book separate tables and eat and drink together at the same time outside?
    Yes, provided the total booking is no greater than thirty people.
  • Does a terrace or outdoor area that can only be accessed by first going inside the restaurant count as outdoor dining?
    Yes.
  • Will restaurants or pubs ask for proof of vaccination or any other form of “vaccine passport?”
    No. “Covid status certification” does not exist in the U.K. as yet.
  • Do people have to “check in” using the NHS Covid-19 app?
    Yes. Unlike when restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopened in winter 2020, each individual is obliged to check in; previously, only the person who had made the reservation was obliged to scan the QR code.
  • Is there an extensive map of the best places to eat outside in London, with a handy key showing whether or not the tables have heaters?
    Yes.
  • Is there another extensive map of the best places to eat outside in London when it’s raining, given this island is wet?
    Yes.

Indoor dining coronavirus rules from 17 May

  • Can people eat or drink inside a restaurant, pub, or bar from 17 May?
    Yes.
  • Can people living in the same household eat or drink together at the same table inside?
    Yes.
  • Can people in the same support bubble eat or drink together at the same table inside?
    Yes.
  • Can people from separate households or support bubbles eat or drink together at the same table inside?
    Yes, provided the total booking is no greater than six people, unless it is from a maximum of two households.
  • Can people from separate households or support bubbles book separate tables and eat and drink together at the same time outside?
    Yes, provided the total booking per table is no greater than six people, or two households.
  • Will restaurants or pubs ask for proof of vaccination or any other form of “vaccine passport?”
    No. “Covid status certification” does not exist in the U.K. as yet.
  • Will restaurants, pubs, and bars demand proof that groups are constituted of households and/or bubbles?
  • This is at the restaurant’s discretion. It is worth remembering that hospitality workers are implicitly being asked to enforce public health rules, which is a serious, unprecedented burden that requires cooperation and respect from diners.

Dining and drinking from 17 May

  • Does the 10 p.m. hospitality curfew still apply?
    No: it has been scrapped.
  • Do the rules on wearing a mask when not seated at a table to eat or drink still apply?
    Yes.
  • Do the rules on table service only at restaurants and pubs still apply?
    Yes.
  • Is takeaway still permitted?
    Yes.
  • Can food delivery still continue past 10 p.m.?
    Yes.
  • Do pubs have to serve food alongside alcohol in order to stay open?
    No. Substantial meals are cancelled.

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