Welsh hospitality on 2m guidance and pushing forward opening date for restaurants, cafes and pubs

First Minister Mark Drakeford has given a provisional green light for restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars to reopen indoors from August 3.

It was a long awaited date for the sector – which can open outdoors from Monday – although the push is on to bring this forward so operators can benefit from the key summer season.

The second crucial announcement was over the 2m rule – which hospitality operators warned that if it remained strictly enforced it would mean most venues were not viable.

On this, the First Minister said: “In recognition of the challenges faced by the hospitality industry, hairdressers and others – we will be making changes to our physical distancing regulations.

“The law in Wales will continue to make the 2m distance the default position, because that’s the safest way to protect people’s health.

First minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, gives a coronavirus briefing in Cardiff
First minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, gives a coronavirus briefing in Cardiff
(Image: Rob Browne)

“But there are some situations and places where 2m cannot reasonably be maintained.

“Our regulations require businesses to put in place a set of additional measures to minimise the risk of the virus spreading in these exceptional situations where 2m can’t be maintained.

“This includes taking reasonable steps to minimise close face-to-face contact and maintain hygiene.”

Now UKHospitality understand the guidance means for businesses where social distancing is crucial to revenues, it will be permitted to operate at less than two metres with mitigations.

There's plenty of delicious food across a number of North Wales restaurants.
Guidance for restaurants

They believe it will be similar to the rules for hospitality venues in England.

In England these include calculating the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) at the venue.

It also means reconfiguring indoor and outdoor seating and tables to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between customers of different households or support bubbles. For example, increasing the distance between tables.

UKHospitality also want a change in the reopening date.

Executive director for Wales David Chapman said: “The August period accounts for a substantial portion of annual revenue and the immediate sustainability of many of our businesses will depend on this reopening being successful.

“That being the case, we are asking Welsh Government to consider, if the health climate allows, reopening three days earlier on Friday 31st to enable a full August of bookings for the sector. We have offered to work with ministers to develop final indoor opening guidelines to ensure a safe enabling of the delivery of either opening date.”

The Welsh Independent Restaurant collective has welcomed the First Minister’s announcement of a date for reopening inside venues across the sector, but warned that the future remains uncertain for many in the industry.

The WIRC – made up of representatives from more than 300 of Wales’ independent restaurants and hospitality businesses – is continuing to highlight the precarious position the industry is in, having reported earlier this week that an estimated 34,000 jobs are at risk across the sector.