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Legal Requirements for Occupancy in the UK

Almost a year on the Covid-19 pandemic is still causing issues for governments trying to deal with different waves and outbreaks. In this blog, we will focus on the current rules and regulations for venue gatherings in the UK.

Occupancy Rules In: England

During the latter half of February 2021 the UK government unveiled plans for the reopening of businesses and public facilities during the Spring. This plan has been set up with specific stages and aligned dates for when they come into effect. Below is a summary of each stage and it’s affected industries, but to see the full plan you can click here.

Step 1

March 1st – 8th – All essential retail remains open. Libraries & Care Centres can begin providing child care services
From March 29th – Outdoor Sports venues such as: Swimming pools, Sports courts, and Golf courses can operate with an occupancy of up to 6 people mixing from 2 households

Step 2

From April 12th – Venues in numerous industries can reopen under the following occupancy rules with existing social distancing measures: Indoor businesses can host groups that are from one household or the same bubble, outdoor hosting can proceed with an occupancy of up to 6 people mixing from 2 households

Non-essential Retail Venues

  • Clothing stores & tailors
  • Showrooms (Cars, Kitchen etc)
  • Electronics stores
  • Charity & antique stores

Personal Care Venues

  • Salons
  • Tattoo studios
  • Spas and massage centres (except for steam rooms and saunas)

Indoor Sports & Leisure Venues

  • Gyms and leisure centres
  • Dance studios and fitness centres
  • Climbing wall centres

Outdoor Attractions

  • Adventure parks
  • Animal attractions (zoo’s, safari’s, aquariums)
  • Drive-in events (cinema’s & theatre’s)
  • Filming studios
  • Museums & galleries

Step 3

From May 17th – In this stage, indoor entertainment and visitor attractions will reopen. For indoor venues there can be groups of up to 6 people from two households. Outdoor entertainment can host groups of up to 30 people

Reopening indoor venues

  • Cinemas & Theatres
  • Concert halls
  • Arcades & Casinos
  • Games, recreation and entertainment venues (such as escape rooms and laser quest)
  • Conference centres and exhibition halls (including for the purposes of business events)

Stadiums & Arenas

  • Indoor occupancy for elite sports events and concerts are capped at 50% or 1,000 people whichever is fewer
  • Outdoor occupancy for these events is capped at 50% or 4,000 people whichever is fewer

Outdoor events taking place in venues with seated capacity of over 16,000, event organizers may apply a 25% capacity cap, up to a maximum of 10,000 seated people.

Step 4

From June 21st – In this step the UK government looks to reopen night clubs and all other venue types

This step will be determined by the success/ease of implementing steps 1 through 3

Working safely guidelines for UK employees

In order to keep this plan in order the UK government has created some guidelines that employees in the majority of industries can follow, massively reducing the chances of outbreaks and business closure.

Coming to, and leaving work – Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace 

Moving around buildings and stores – Restricting access to some areas, encouraging the use of radios, telephones or other electronic devices to better manage this

Accidents, security and other incidents – Incident and emergency procedures to ensure they reflect the social distancing principles as far as possible
To see all safety guidelines for UK employees click here

Occupancy Rules In: Scotland

The ‘Covid Protection Level’ infrastructure was adopted by the Scottish government and is made up of 5 levels (0 to 4) recently updated level 4 was replaced with the “COVID19: Stay at home guidance” on January 5th 2021.

The levels each represent how businesses can operate and how the public can move around in their local areas. Under each of the following levels the Scottish government has made it clear how much responsibility each individual holds to minimize the possibility of a C19 transmission or outbreak.

For a wider view of each industry and how it can operate in these levels click here

Covid Protection Level Breakdown by Industry

Restaurants, Cafe’s, and Bars

Covid Protection Level 3: No alcoholic beverage can be served. Last entry to hospitality venues is 5pm all patrons to leave by 6pm

  • Indoor group gatherings are limited at 6 people from the same household, however if the number of people from the same household exceeds this, the venue can choose to split into smaller groups
  • Outdoor group gatherings are limited to 6 people but can be from 2 separate households

Covid Protection Level 2: Alcoholic beverages can be served with a main meal. Last entry to hospitality venues is 21:30pm and all patrons to leave by 22:30pm

  • Indoor & outdoor group gatherings are limited to 6 people but can be from 2 separate households

Covid Protection Level 1: During this level, venues serving alcoholic beverages are required to follow the licensing act of 2005. Last entry to hospitality venues is 21:30pm and all patrons to leave by 22:30pm

  • Indoor group gatherings are limited to 6 people but can be from 2 separate households
  • Outdoor group gatherings are limited to 8 people but can be from 3 separate households

Covid Protection Level 0: Open with no restrictions around times of operation. Venues serving alcoholic beverages are required to follow the licencing act of 2005.

  • Indoor group gatherings are limited to 8 people but can be from 3 separate households
  • Outdoor group gatherings are limited to 15 people but can be from 5 separate households

Life Events (Weddings / Funerals etc)

Covid Protection Levels 3, 2, 1: Wearing face masks and social distancing should still be practiced 

  • Ceremony gatherings indoors and outdoors are limited to 20 people providing the venue can accommodate
  • Post ceremony gatherings such as wake’s can still go ahead but are limited to 20 people

Covid Protection Level 0:

  • Ceremony gatherings indoors and outdoors are limited to 50 people providing the venue can accommodate
  • Post ceremony gatherings such as wake’s can still go ahead but are limited to 50 people

Visitor Attractions

Museums, aquariums, and galleries can open providing there are physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.

Covid Protection Levels 3, 2, 1: Face coverings indoors are compulsory for all visitors and staff. Public and customer toilets can be opened as long as it is safe to do so. Where toilets are part of a larger premises e.g. a shop, face coverings must be worn.

  • Group gatherings of up to 6 people from 2 separate households are allowed both outdoors or indoors

Covid Protection Level 0: Face coverings indoors are compulsory for all visitors and staff.

  • Group gatherings of up to 15 people from 5 separate households are allowed outdoors
  • Group gatherings of up to 8 people from 3 separate households are allowed

To see a complete list of the rules in each Covid Protection Level click one of the following: CPL-0 / CPL-1 / CPL-2 / CPL-3

Occupancy Rules In: Wales

In Wales, businesses and the public are following a lockdown plan which has 4 levels. 

Level 4

Currently in the highest level of this lockdown Welsh businesses that can operate are restricted to: Essential Retail, Informal Childcare (must be essential), and Life Events (venues are responsible for setting occupancy limits while staging inline with government guidelines i.e face masks & keeping social distance).

Level 3

Licensed Premises (Pubs / Shops)

  • Take away and delivery options only (no alcohol to be consumed on-site)
  • Off licenses to close at 10pm

Restaurants, Cafe’s, Bars

  • Hospitality venues (no alcohol for consumption on premises. Open between 6am and 6pm
  • Takeaway options can continue after 6pm

Outdoor & Indoor Organised Activities

  • Indoor activities (meetings, organised sports etc) can have up to 15 participants
  • Outdoor activities (organised sports, public gardens and parks etc) can have up to 30 participants

Life Events

  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies can go ahead, the occupancy limit is set by the venue but must adhere to government safety guidelines
  • Wedding reception or wakes, in venues that are allowed to be open, (15 people indoors, 30 outdoors)

Level 2

Licensed Premises (Pubs / Shops)

  • Licensed premises (can serve alcohol between 6am and 10pm where part of a substantial meal. Premises must close by 10:20pm).

Restaurants, Cafe’s, Bars

  • Groups limited to 4 people. Government guidance, “Meet no more than 3 other people indoors in a cafe, restaurant or other open premises.”

Other locations types that can reopen in ‘Level 2’

  • Leisure & Fitness venues
  • Close contact services (barbers, hairdressers, spa’s)
  • Libraries and archive services
  • Community centres

Level 1

At alert ‘Level 1’ the only venues unable to open are Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues.

Licensed Premises (Pubs / Shops)

  • Licensed premises (can serve alcohol between 6am and 10pm where part of a substantial meal. Premises must close by 10:20pm).

Restaurants, Cafe’s, Bars

  • Groups limited to 6 people. Government guidance, “Meet no more than 5 other people indoors”

Outdoor & Indoor Organised Activities

  • Indoor activities (meetings, organised sports etc) can have up to 50 participants
  • Outdoor activities (organised sports, public gardens and parks etc) can have up to 100 participants

Life Events

  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies can go ahead, the occupancy limit is set by the venue but must adhere to government safety guidelines
  • Wedding reception or wakes, in venues that are allowed to be open, (50 people indoors, 100 outdoors)

To see all of the Welsh levels and what restrictions each hold click one of the following: L1 / L2 / L3 / L4

Occupancy Rules In: Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, rules around occupancy and how businesses can operate are being affected by the rate of Covid19 cases and with no official recovery plan or level of lockdown these are the latest updates (which came into action on Jan 8th) of how businesses in NI can operate.

Essential Retail

Previously operating under an 8pm curfew, essential retail businesses and take away services must cease operations by 11pm

Restaurants, Cafe’s, Pubs & Bars

Hospitality venues must remain closed, with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway, drive-through or delivery

Life Events

Religious venues can resume services, with weddings and funerals having a cap of 25 people

Education

Higher education institutions, such as universities must deliver distanced learning.

Primary school years 1-3 will have students return inline with England’s plan of reopening schools from the 8th of March

Hotels & Guesthouses

Catering services on these premises are allowed to continue serving food and beverages. This service may continue off premises between the hours of 05:00am and 23:00pm on a takeaway basis either for collection or delivery.

All further venues are to remain closed until further government guidance is published.

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