Guidance for tourism, hospitality and retail businesses on the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations.
Alcohol sales not allowed after 10pm
What are the new 10pm restrictions associated with pubs, bars and restaurants with a licence to sell alcohol?
All licensed premises in Wales must stop selling alcohol at 10pm, and be closed (with no members of the public allowed to be on the premises) by 10.20pm. For pubs, bars and restaurants and all other premises serving alcohol, the 20 minute ‘drink up’ time will minimise the risk of customers all leaving the premises at the same time. It should also provide greater flexibility for restaurants to practice a pattern of 2 evening sittings, and allow a short time for customers to finish their meals. Licensed premises will not be able to re-open until 6am the following morning.
Will the same restrictions apply to all venues with a licence to sell and serve alcohol on the premises?
Yes, the same restrictions apply to all licensed premises. This extends to businesses such as cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, snooker halls and social clubs which have a licence to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises. Cinemas can stay open so that a screening which starts before 10pm can finish, but no alcohol can be served after 10pm.
What about alcohol served in hotels and other forms of accommodation with a licence?
Where an accommodation provider has a licence to sell alcohol, they will be required to stop selling alcohol at 10pm and must close the part of their premises in which alcohol is consumed (generally the hotel bar) to customers by 10.20pm. The rest of the premises is not required to close, and room service can continue after 10pm, but may not include alcohol. These restrictions must remain in place until 6am the next day.
Can alcohol still be served at wedding receptions, civil partnerships or funeral wakes after 10pm?
Licensed premises hosting wedding receptions, civil partnership receptions and funeral wakes (in accordance with the Welsh rules) must stop selling and serving alcohol at 10pm. The premises (or, in the case of a hotel, the part of the premises in which alcohol is consumed) must close by 10.20pm.
Do supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores have to stop selling alcoholic drinks in-store after 10pm?
Yes. All off-licences, including supermarkets and convenience stores, can remain open but will have to stop selling alcohol in-store from 10pm and cannot begin to sell alcohol again until 6am the next day.
Will I be able to have an on-line order from a supermarket, including alcohol, delivered to my home after 10pm?
On-line deliveries from supermarkets and other providers will be permitted after 10pm but must not include alcohol. The intention of the regulation is to ensure that supermarkets (regardless of where their operations are based) are not supplying alcohol to customers in Wales at the point of delivery after 10pm. Any retailers located within Wales but providing deliveries across the border to customers in England should follow the English regulations.
Can premises without a licence to serve alcohol remain open beyond 10pm?
Yes, premises serving food and non-alcoholic drinks, such as cafes, coffee house chains, fast-food restaurants and take-away premises that don’t have a licence for selling alcohol can remain open beyond 10pm.
Can pubs and restaurants which have a licence to serve alcohol provide “take-away” delivery services beyond 10pm?
Take-away delivery service providers, and restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes offering take-away services, can continue to provide food take-away delivery services beyond 10pm. However, food take-away deliveries cannot include any alcohol beyond 10pm, and customers are not permitted to collect their orders directly from these premises from 10.20pm onwards as these premises must remain closed to the public.
Can licensed premises at ports, airports and service stations remain open after 10pm?
Yes, licensed premises serving food and drink at ports, airports, service stations and staff canteens can remain open after 10pm but must not serve alcohol after that time, and until 6am the following morning.
Are blanket restrictions being applied across all areas of Wales?
Yes, these restrictions apply to all areas of Wales, including local lockdown areas. However there may be additional local restrictions in place which should be considered and applied alongside this guidance.
Why have restrictions been introduced on the sale of alcohol after 10pm?
Whilst the majority of hospitality businesses across Wales are operating safe environments for their customers, there is scientific evidence that alcohol consumption still presents a major risk factor in the spread of infectious diseases. The effect of drinking alcohol – particularly drinking too much alcohol – can make people engage in more risk-taking behaviours. It can also make it harder for people to recall where they have been and who they were in close contact with if they are asked by contact tracing teams in the event someone tests positive.
This is supported by concerns from local authorities and the police over a breakdown in social distancing by groups of people following extended periods of alcohol consumption and from groups of people visiting multiple premises. The 10pm ban on alcohol sales has been introduced to minimise these risks.
We are acutely aware of the immense challenges the hospitality sector is facing as a result of the measures taken to protect public health and save lives. Whilst we know the majority of hospitality businesses are working hard to comply, cases and clusters have been linked to hospitality settings and local authorities have taken enforcement action against pubs and restaurants where they have identified breaches of regulations – this includes, in some cases, closure notices. We are committed to doing everything we can to support the sector through this incredibly difficult period and thank them for the way they have responded to date.
What evidence exists on the spread of Covid-19 in hospitality settings?
When people disregard social distancing the risk of COVID-19 infection rates rise. This is not necessarily as a result of hospitality businesses not putting suitable measures in place but is more about people’s behaviour and interactions in and around these settings.
Whilst one particular setting cannot be singled out, measures need to be taken in settings where social interactions typically last for 15 minutes or more. Since the introduction of time limited opening hours, there is evidence of a reduction in the number of contacts identified by individuals who have tested positive. We will continue to gather evidence on the potential role that hospitality settings play in the spread of Covid-19.
Table service rules for licensed premises
What are the “table service” rules for licensed premises?
The table service restrictions mean that all premises which have a licence to serve alcohol now need to serve customers only when they are sitting down, generally at a table. Customers must order and consume food and drink at the table. Businesses are encouraged to use smartphone apps for customers to order and pay for food to minimise contact between staff and customers.
Can I still stand at the bar of a pub or bar and have a drink?
No. All hospitality businesses in Wales with a licence to sell alcohol must serve food and drink to people who are seated and they must consume it while seated. Sitting at the bar is not allowed.
Are there any exemptions for licensed premises? What about buffet-service, for example?
Where a restaurant is operating a buffet service, service of the food can be treated as if has being served to a table. The customer should be taken to the table on arrival and should pay for their meal at their table. However, the customer can select food from the buffet if a face covering is worn to approach the buffet and hand sanitiser is used. In order to minimise contact with high touch utensils, customers should not serve themselves from the buffet. Food should be physically put on the plate by staff rather than customers, and rigorous cleaning regimes should be maintained around the buffet area. Customers visiting the buffet should also maintain a distance of 2 metres from other customers (except between 2 members of the same household or extended household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer).
This also applies to premises such as cinemas, where customers can purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks directly from a member of staff at the counter and take it with them. If customers purchase alcoholic drinks at a cinema, they will need to be seated and served at a table.
What about “self-service” type canteens in workplaces or education establishments?
There is also an exception for any workplace canteens, including canteens in educational establishments such as universities operating buffets and that have a licence to sell alcohol. Food or drink must however still be consumed sitting down and alcohol should not be served after 10pm and must close at 10.20pm.
How do the table service rules impact upon activity-led venues with a licence to service alcohol?
Activity-led venues with licences to sell alcohol such as bingo and snooker halls, and bowling alleys should ensure food and drink is ordered, served and paid for at the table. Other related activities such as selling bingo tickets, should where possible also be conducted at the table to minimise contact with other customers. The activities themselves (such as bowling or playing snooker) can take place away from the table, but customers are not allowed to do these activities together with anyone they don’t live with or, if they have formed an (exclusive) extended household, in a group of up to 6 people from that extended household.
Does the new table service only guidance for licensed premises also apply to establishments that do not sell alcohol, for example coffee house chains?
No, table service restrictions do not apply to establishments that do not sell alcohol. Social distancing of 2 metres should however be maintained between customers whilst queueing at a counter to place their order, and if eating on the premises, food and drink should be consumed at a table.
Are hospitality premises exempt from the rule on face coverings in indoor public places?
No. Face coverings are mandatory in all indoor public spaces open to members of the public (applies to all staff and customers aged 11 and over), unless you have a reasonable excuse not to wear one.
For hospitality premises, customers entering and leaving restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes and walking around these premises, and staff working at these premises are now also required to wear a face covering. Customers are allowed to remove face coverings when seated at a table to eat or drink.
Do I need to wear a face covering if I am collecting a take-away?
Yes, you do need to wear a face covering if you are buying and collecting food from a take-away or take-away area of a restaurant.
Can I wear a visor instead of a face covering?
In the context of the requirements imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic a visor or face shield is not a face covering. It is made of waterproof material, fits loosely over the eyes and extends down such that it may lie over but not cover the nose and mouth. It cannot fit snugly around the nose and mouth as it could impair breathing and may fog. The effectiveness of visors and face shields is unknown at present. They are worn in clinical/care giving settings to protect against large droplet exposure, including by inoculation through the eyes, but when worn outside these settings there is no evidence that face shields/visors protect the wearer or are an effective source control for either larger droplets or small aerosols.
Whilst it is appreciated that some people have difficulty making themselves heard when wearing other types of face covering, visors are designed to protect the eyes from airborne droplets and are not intended for use without a face mask.
Meetings or gatherings indoors (rule of 6 but only from your household or extended* household)
* Extended households are not permitted in local lockdown areas (with the exception of people living on their own). Local lockdown area rules.
How many people are able to sit together indoors at the same table within a café, bar, pub or restaurant?
Meetings or gatherings indoors within hospitality venues must be limited to 6 people at any one time (not including any children aged under 11), and only include members of your household or extended household (bubble) if you have formed one.
Where a (single) household is made up of more than 6 people aged 11 or over, because they live together, there are no restrictions on the members of that household being together in indoor public spaces like pubs and restaurants. There is also no limit on the number of children aged under 11 who can be part of a gathering indoors.
What are the rules for forming an extended household?
The key rules on who belongs to an extended household are that:
- An extended household can be made up of a maximum of 4 households.
- No person can be part of more than one extended household, with the exception of children who live in 2 homes (for example because their parents have separated and have joint custody).
- All individuals in one home must belong to the same extended household.
- All of the adult members of each household must agree to join the same extended household.
- Once you have agreed and joined an extended household, nobody can leave the extended household to form a new one.
Are there any restrictions on the number of people who can gather together within a hospitality venue if they are attending a wedding reception, a civil partnership or a funeral wake?
Wedding receptions and funeral wakes remain at 30 people indoors maintaining social distancing at 2 metres and wearing face coverings.
What reasonable measures should I take as a hospitality business to ensure that customers are complying with the rule of 6 from a household or extended household?
You should review any bookings taken prior to the change in Welsh law on the ‘rule of 6’ which came into effect on 14 September.
Where any bookings have been made that do not comply with the single household rule or the rule of 6 from an extended household, a rebooking that complies with the new rules should be taken, a postponement agreed or cancellation made.
You should take all reasonable measures to ensure that individual bookings you take are limited to people from the same household or up to 6 people from an extended household (not including any children aged under 11). You should not knowingly take a booking for over 6 people (unless they are from the same household) by separating the party onto different tables.
You should comply with the rule of 6 from an extended household regardless of whether the booking is being made by guests from outside of Wales where different rules may apply.
What if it is not commercially viable for my business to operate by maintaining the 2 metre distancing rule between tables?
If it is not commercially viable for you to include enough tables in your premises at a distance of 2 metres apart, then the tables may be placed closer together as long as mitigating actions are taken to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. This might include back-to-back seating (if the seats are high backed), or side-to-side seating (rather than face-to-face) including installing physical barriers such as protective screens between tables that can be washed and cleaned effectively.
Meetings or gatherings outdoors (rule of 30)
How many customers are permitted to gather outdoors at hospitality premises to eat or drink?
Individual gatherings/groups of up to 30 people are permitted outdoors and can include a mix of households (not limited to the same/extended household). However social distancing of 2 metres should be maintained between customers if they are not part of the same household or extended household.
Does the rule of 30 apply to the total space, or an individual group?
The rule of 30 applies to individual groups or gatherings, and not the total capacity for a hospitality business in an outdoor setting, which can be larger if space allows and social distancing can be maintained. Any such decision should be based on your business having conducted a risk assessment to determine if the capacity adheres to social distancing measures.
What if it is not commercially viable to maintain the 2 metre distancing rule between a group or gathering who are not all part of the same extended household?
If it is not commercially viable for you to include enough tables at a distance of 2 metres apart to accommodate the whole party in the outdoor space, then the tables could be placed closer together as long as are taken to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. This might include back-to-back seating (if the seats are high backed), or side-to-side seating (rather than face-to-face) including installing physical barriers such as protective screens between tables that can be washed and cleaned effectively.
Can customers gather under physical coverings outside to protect them from the weather?
Physical coverings such as awnings, gazebos or marquees should be open-sided (at least 3 or 4 sides) if they are to be considered and treated as an external environment. Otherwise they should be treated as an internal environment and the rules on indoor gatherings apply.
Travel restrictions for people coming into Wales
Why are the new restrictions being introduced?
The new restrictions came into force on Friday 16 October at 6pm, and have been introduced to prevent people who live in areas with high coronavirus infection rates across the UK from travelling to Wales.
Evidence from public health professionals suggests coronavirus is moving from east to west across the UK and across Wales. As a general rule, it is concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of people travelling. Much of Wales is now subject to local restriction measures because levels of the virus have risen, and people living in those areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundary without a reasonable excuse.
This is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK. Tourism is extremely important to Wales but our immediate priority is to keep Wales safe from coronavirus. We look forward to welcoming customers from high incidence areas back to Wales when it is safe to do so.
Which areas in the UK will be affected by these new restrictions?
The new restrictions will apply to high incidence areas as listed in the new Schedule 4B of The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 and include:
- all of Northern Ireland
- the central belt of Scotland
- areas in Tier 2 in England
- areas in Tier 3 in England
It is also a requirement that people living in parts of Wales outside of the local restrictions areas must not enter any of the areas listed above unless they have a reasonable excuse to do so.
Are there any exceptions to the above restrictions?
People who live in the above areas outside Wales can still travel to areas in Wales with low coronavirus infection rates if they have a reasonable excuse to do so. These are similar to the ‘reasonable excuses’ required in order to be able to enter or an area of Wales subject to local restrictions and includes travelling for work purposes where they cannot work from home, or if they have caring responsibilities.
For more detail on what is a reasonable excuse, you can visit any of our pages on local restrictions in different areas of Wales, and read about the different circumstances in which it is permitted for residents of those areas to leave their area.
What reasonable measures should I take as a tourism or hospitality business to ensure compliance with the new travel restrictions?
As a business you should take all reasonable measures to ensure that you and your customers are complying with the new travel restrictions rules. You should not knowingly accept customers who have travelled to your premises from an area where travel is not permitted. You should ask the customer at the point of booking where they are travelling from and communicate to all customers with existing bookings from 6pm on Friday 16 October, reminding them to check whether they reside within a UK high incidence area and giving them a chance to cancel or postpone their bookings if required.
Should I be asking customers already staying at my premises to leave before the travel restrictions come into effect?
The Regulations provide that those living in the areas listed above need a reasonable excuse in order to remain in a part of Wales that is not a local health protection area. The guidance is that people who do not have a good reason (a “reasonable excuse”) to stay in Wales and are from any of the high incidence areas, should leave as soon as practicable from the date and time in which the restrictions come into effect. Being on holiday is not deemed a reasonable excuse and people should return to their main residence as soon as practicable.
Businesses are not legally responsible for enforcing these requirements on their customers, but must not help customers to break any restrictions. The obligation is on the individual although a business that encourages a breach may also commit an offence. As such if your customer is from a high incidence area, you may consider it appropriate to encourage them to leave if they are able to do so.
If the new regulation means I now have to cancel bookings from visitors outside the area, what is the position with regards to refunds?
We appreciate that these are extraordinary times for tourism businesses. Ultimately, any decisions on refunds are a matter between the business and the customer, which will be determined by the terms and conditions of the booking.
Can people from high incidence areas still travel through Wales?
Yes. If they have to travel along a road that passes through Wales (e.g. to travel from England to Ireland) and have no other reasonable option to travel to their destination, then this is allowed. This also applies to visitors travelling by public transport e.g. changing trains at stations in Wales.
Can people from high incidence areas still travel to a second home or caravan they own in Wales?
People who do not have a good reason (a “reasonable excuse”) to stay in the area should leave as soon as practicable. Being on holiday is not deemed a reasonable excuse and people should return to their main residence as soon as practicable.
Holiday and Caravan parks are not legally responsible for enforcing these requirements on their customers but must not help customers to break any restrictions. The obligation is on the individual although a business that encourages a breach may also commit an offence. As such if a caravan owner on your site is from a high incidence area, you may consider it appropriate to encourage them to leave if they are able to do so.
Can caravan owners from high incidence areas return to a park to collect their belongings and secure their caravans for winter?
Yes, although caravan park owners should agree a time and date for caravan owners from a high incidence area to visit the site. Whilst on site they must continue to observe the social distancing measures. Owners are not permitted to stay overnight in their caravans while these travel restrictions are in operation.
What does a ‘reasonable measure’ or ‘reasonable excuse’ mean in terms of obligations on businesses or members of the public to comply with COVID-19 regulations?
The legal requirement under regulation 12 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 is based on the notion of doing what is “reasonable”, depending on the circumstances. It is for businesses and members of the public to determine what they believe is reasonable in terms of appropriate actions taken to comply with the guidelines. Ultimately if your actions are challenged, it will be for the courts to decide the meaning and application of the law in each particular case. For further information, please refer to regulation 13 where a person is required to take reasonable measures under regulation 12 and describes how they must have regard to it.
Guests with COVID-19 symptoms
What will happen if a visitor, customer or member of staff displays symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for coronavirus?
If you are operating accommodation and a customer starts displaying symptoms of COVID-19 whilst staying at your premises, then they (and anyone travelling with them) should return home as quickly as possible, if well enough to do so. They must use the most direct route, and should not use public transport. They should then self-isolate immediately and follow the self-isolation guidance. The person with symptoms should apply for a free COVID-19 antigen test preferably at a convenient location close to their home as soon as possible.
What will happen if an international guest staying at your accommodation develops COVID-19 symptoms?
As it would not be safe for an international guest with COVID-19 symptoms to travel home whilst experiencing symptoms, they should stay at your accommodation and:
- immediately apply for a free COVID-19 antigen test and follow the self-isolation guidance
- if they become very unwell and feel they cannot cope with their symptoms, inform them to use the 111 online coronavirus service or to call 111. In a medical emergency, dial 999
- if they receive a negative test result then they no longer need to self-isolate and can return home as they wish / or on completion of their stay
- if they receive a positive COVID-19 test whilst staying at your accommodation, then they must continue to self-isolate and follow the contact tracing guidance that will be provided directly to them by the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. The service will contact them as soon as they receive a positive test, and will also contact you as the accommodation provider if there is a suspected outbreak on your premises (i.e. more than one confirmed case)
You should be aware of the risk associated with accepting bookings from international customers should they develop COVID-19 symptoms during their stay, given they will not be able to vacate your accommodation until they receive a negative test or their self-isolation period is complete. You will need to consider this as part of your risk assessments and the potential mitigations you might put in place, such as leaving additional buffer-space between bookings. Again, the cost factor and your associated booking policy needs to be clearly communicated with your potential customers in advance of accepting bookings.
You should also view the Welsh Government Written statement on International Travel Regulations and further details.
NHS COVID-19 app and how it works with Wales’ existing visitor and customer record keeping requirements
Is it essential that hospitality businesses continue to keep records of staff, visitors and customers if they sign up to the new NHS COVID-19 app?
Keeping records of staff, customers and visitors remains compulsory for hospitality businesses in Wales. You should continue to employ your own record keeping system, whether this is based on manual/paper, digital or QR code systems to support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service.
This compulsory guidance still applies regardless of where you sign up to the new NHS COVID-19 app and display the new QR poster. This is also regardless of how many posters you put up for your customers, and whether they choose to check in to your venue using this new app.
How will the new NHS COVID-19 app complement my existing record keeping systems?
The new app complements the existing mandatory arrangements on keeping records of staff, customers and visitors, by providing your customers with the fastest way to see if they are at risk from coronavirus. The new NHS COVID-19 app does not substitute this guidance and is not essential or mandated. The app works in exactly the same way in England and Wales. The more people who use it, the more it will help to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Is it essential that my business signs up to the new NHS COVID-19 app?
All public facing businesses are encouraged to register for the app and display the QR code poster in their venue to enable customers to use the check in function so they can keep track of where they have been. However this is not mandatory in Wales.
Can I hold live performances or play broadcasts or recorded music in my hospitality venue?
At present, given the risks of droplets and aerosol transmission from either the performer(s) or their audience, venues are not permitted to hold live performances, including drama, comedy or music, to take place in front of a live audience. The restriction on live performances includes DJ acts. See guidance for performances.
TV broadcasts, recorded music and any other approved forms of entertainment throughout the premises should be kept at background level, and dancing and singing should be avoided. The risk of transmission increases in venues where customers have to raise their voices to be heard. In Wales, the 85dB (A) level mentioned in the English Statutory Instrument SI2020/1046 is not applicable nor supported as a measure of the allowable background music sound level in venues. This is because the impact of sound will vary considerably between different venues in terms of their size, position of customers relative to the music source, and overall capacity. In order to determine a reasonable background sound level, it is advised that a subjective test of holding conversations at social distance 2m is applied. Conversations should not be strained or difficult to understand with broadcasts taking place.
Can I organise a seasonal event?
Outdoor, organised public events with more than 30 people are not permitted. For example, a fireworks display or bonfire event at any venue is a gathering of people for the same purpose and therefore the rule of 30 applies.
Seasonal celebrations taking place indoors, in a house or at a hospitality venue, must adhere to the rules on indoor gatherings. This means that people who aren’t in areas of local lockdown can only mix with up to 6 people from their household or extended household indoors. Those in local lockdown areas can only meet indoors with people they live with. The exception to this is people living alone, including single parent households, who can form another bubble with another household. The rule of six will apply to these new single people household bubbles, which must be from their own lockdown area.
Individuals can buy fireworks for their own use, but the Firework Code, the rules on indoor and outdoor gatherings and local lockdown restrictions must be adhered to. The Fire and Rescue Service strongly advises against garden bonfires and urges the public to follow the relevant guidance.
Are there any restrictions on types of activity can be conducted indoors in hospitality venues?
Skittles, Darts, Pool and other ‘pub games’ as well as classic pub quizzes or bingo would entail people gathering in the same place in order to do something together which cannot take place indoors in breach of the rules on indoor gatherings and has an increased risk of people mingling between different groups so this would not be permissible within the current guidance.
However each proposed activity can be considered on its own merits. For example, a quiz maintaining separate groups and complying with the rules on indoor gatherings (where each group collects a quiz sheet at the beginning of an evening and submits it at the end of the evening) would not necessarily constitute a gathering and could therefore be permissible.
Activity-led licensed venues such as bingo and snooker halls, and bowling alleys are able to operate as long as they adhere to the guidance on table service only and 10pm restrictions on alcohol sales. However, as stated above the carrying out of activities such as playing snooker or bingo will need to comply with the relevant rules on gatherings as well as the rules on social distancing.
Can seasonal markets take place?
Markets selling products, such as craft markets, must adhere to the retail regulations and take all possible preventative measures outlined to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. This includes undertaking a COVID-19 risk assessment.
Markets that include the sale of food & drink for immediate consumption must follow the measures in place for hospitality businesses. These include:
- adhering to the rules on table service for all licenced market stalls
- the use of face coverings and other hygiene measures and
- keeping records of staff, visitors and customers to support NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect
What is the advice for organising group, FIT (Free Independent Travellers), educational visits or tours in Wales?
Anyone operating tours or group or FIT visits into Wales must ensure that their business and their clients comply with the latest Coronavirus Regulations 2020 and all specific travel trade guidance provided by Visit Wales.