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Lockdown latest: pubs and restaurants get 10pm curfew

New rules brought in across the UK amid second wave fears

Lockdown latest: pubs and restaurants get 10pm curfew

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, some national lockdown measures have returned.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in Parliament on Tuesday that pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England will have to close by 10pm each night from Thursday.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the same rule will be in place for Scotland from Friday, along with a series of measures to restrict social contact.

The 10pm curfew was announced for Wales by First Minister Mark Drakeford. Alcohol sales from supermarkets and off-licenses will also have to stop at 10pm.

This came after First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster placed restrictions on socialising in the Six Counties, banning gatherings inside people’s homes and bringing in the ‘rule of six’ for meetings in gardens.

It’s also now compulsory in England for staff in shops, pubs and restaurants to wear face coverings, as it already was in Scotland.

Mr Johnson said that without palpable progress in fighting the virus with vaccines, treatments and mass testing, these measures would remain in place for six months.

Here, Which? explains the new rules and reveals what is and isn’t open across the UK.

We’ll update this story with details from the First Minister of Wales expected announcement after it happens.

What do the new rules mean for pubs and restaurants?

Pubs and restaurants remain open across the UK, but in England, Scotland and Wales they must close by 10pm every night after the end of this week. There is no curfew in Northern Ireland at the moment.

With the ‘rule of six’, it’s now illegal to meet in groups of seven or more in a pub or restaurant (not including children in Wales and Scotland).

And pubs and restaurants in England will be required by law to collect customers’ contact details to help support NHS Test and Trace. This has been advised since they reopened, but since cases are rising, it’s now mandatory.

In Scotland, it’s also compulsory for hospitality businesses to collect contact information to help the NHS Scotland Test and Protect service.

Hospitality businesses in England, Scotland and Wales now all have to operate on a table-service-only basis.

Members of staff in pubs and restaurants will now be required to wear masks in England, as will customers unless they are seated at a table. This was already the case in Scotland.

The ‘rule of six’

No more than six people are permitted to meet in England – inside or outside – under a new law brought in on Monday 14 September. The six can still come from multiple households. Boris Johnson’s 22 September announcement didn’t change this fundamentally, but it did shorten the list of exemptions to this law.

The rule was tightened in Scotland on Tuesday. From 23 September, people will not be allowed to visit other households inside their homes, with some exceptions. Groups of six from two households can still meet in public places, however, with those under 12 years old not counting towards the total.

Young people aged 12 to 18 are able to meet in groups of six from any number of households.

Wales still has the ‘rule of six’ in place, and household meetings have not been banned. However, all six must come from an ‘extended household’ of up to four households. Children under the age of 11 don’t count towards the total.

In Northern Ireland, up to 15 people can still meet in public, but indoor meetings in people’s houses aren’t allowed and only six from two households can meet in private gardens.

Does the rule of six apply in pubs and restaurants?

Although many have spent the summer enjoying (often discounted) dinner and drinks out with groups of family and friends, this has been restricted as we move into the autumn.

Now, you aren’t allowed to meet in groups of more than six at a pub or restaurant unless you’re all part of the same household.

You also have to ‘avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know’ while you are out.

Of course, if your area is under local lockdown, there could be measures in place that restrict things even further. See the lists of local lockdowns in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for details.

What treatments and services are allowed at beauty salons and spas?

  • Where are they open? England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales.

Beauty parlours have now reopened across the UK, and although it wasn’t initially the case, you are now able to get facials and eyebrow treatments in England.

Northern Ireland also allows all beauty treatments, but the Welsh Government ‘strongly advises’ against some face-based treatments and only those that can be carried out from behind or by the side of the head are allowed in Scotland.

Spas have been given the green light to reopen in every nation, but saunas remain closed across the UK.

hairdressers set up for social distancing

Gyms, pools and leisure centres reopen

  • Where are they open? England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Gyms have been open since July across most of the UK. Scotland was the last to the party, dusting off its treadmills on 31 August.

Operators have been advised to use timed booking systems, limit numbers, and encourage showering and changing at home, although changing rooms are allowed to be open.

When will cinemas, theatres and music venues reopen?

  • Where are they open already? Cinemas are open in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; outdoor performances allowed in Scotland; indoor and outdoor music venues and theatres are open in England, but outdoor venues are preferred.
  • When will they open elsewhere? From 5 October for theatres and music venues in Scotland; no dates for Northern Ireland or Wales.

Cinemas can now show films in most parts of the UK, but you’ll have to wear a mask or face covering if you’re in England or Scotland.

Northern Ireland previously set an ‘indicative date’ of 1 September for reopening theatres, but this has been delayed indefinitely. Scotland also pushed back its opening date for indoor performances by three weeks to 5 October at the earliest.

Empty theatre seats

With strict social distancing in place, it’s proven difficult to find a safe way to reopen theatres and live music venues while still enabling them to meet costs.

Current regulations in England allow theatres and performance venues to open, both indoors and outdoors, but only with limited audiences indoors. Several West End shows have announced they will be welcoming audiences from October, with one theatre even going as far as to remove rows of seats to allow social distancing.

Despite this, some industry leaders have decided against reopening at this time.

Cameron Mackintosh, the West End producer behind Hamilton London, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and The Phantom of the Opera, made the decision in June to delay all of his musicals until 2021, citing the ‘impossible constraints of social distancing’. And composer and impresario of musical theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber told MPs in early September that it would be economically ‘impossible’ to open theatres with social distancing in place.

What will remain closed?

Larger mass gatherings, such as sporting events and concerts in arenas and stadiums, remain cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future, although trials with limited spectators and audience members are taking place.

The UK government website says the only establishments in England that specifically remain closed nationwide are ‘nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques’ and ‘sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars’.

And, of course, areas under local lockdown or with tighter restrictions in place might see fewer businesses open than elsewhere.


This story was first published on 23 June 2020 and has been updated. The latest update was on 23 September to include new government guidelines.

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