Business support and advice
Support and advice for businesses affected by COVID-19.

Covid-19 advice for Pubs, Clubs, Bars and Restaurants selling alcohol

Champagne flutes

This content was last updated on 16 October 2020.

Additional restrictions

Government has declared that Preston (and Lancashire as a whole) is a "Tier 3, Very High Alert" area according to the Government Covid Alert system.

This will impact on what businesses must close. We will update this page with further information.

In the meantime please visit our FAQs on local restrictions page.

Public houses, bars and restaurants

Public houses, bars and restaurants are able to open as long as they implement infection control measures, and adhere to local restrictions.

Nightclubs, Dance floors (in premises) and sexual entertainment venues must remain closed.

The government has prepared guidance for Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Takeaway Services and the visitor economy for Hotels.

Live Entertainment is now permitted in Preston but venues must follow the guidance HM Government Performing Arts.

For more information on the Business Closure restrictions visit our Business Closures pages.

Businesses and Premises that Must Close

Re-opening Considerations

  1. Ensure your premises Licence is current and you have paid your annual fee. If you are looking to alter your hours of opening or make significant change to your operation you may need to apply for a variation. If you have any concerns contact Licensing Services for advice.
  2. Ensure that your current Designated Premises Supervisor is named on the Premises Licence and there have not been any recent changes.
  3. Ensure that you update your current risk assessments to reflect Covid-19 Infection Control and Social Distancing. Read our Advice to Employers and Employees pages for advice on matters such as Risk Assessments, Social Distancing and Employee relations.
  4. Ensure your premises are safe to reopen and that essential maintenance and necessary alternations have been undertaken. Read our Re-opening Workplaces after the Closure Period pages.
  5. Ensure your ready to reopen your kitchens and your Hazard Analysis is up to date. Read our Re-opening Food Businesses after Prolonged Closure pages.
  6. Ensure that you implement a system to maintain records of staff, customers and visitors. We strongly recommend that you utilise the NHS Test and Trace APP.

Poppleston Allen have produced a Pre-opening Checklist that premises can use to ensure that they are complainant.

Licenced Premises Pre-opening Checklist

Understanding Social Distancing (Further Guidance) - Keeping Customers Safe

This section builds upon the advice contained in the governments guidance for Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Takeaway Services,and should be read with that guidance.

The advice is that persons (or separate households) must remain 2 meters apart. Persons (or separate households) may come as close as 1 meter as long as mitigating measures are put in place.

What are mitigating measures?

Clear demarcation: Ensure that there is clear demarcation for persons queuing, whether that be at entrances, toilets or the bar. Ensure that there are arrows and other signs guiding people in the right direction, especially if there is a one way system.

Sitting different groups side by side rather than facing each other: People sat at tables need to be an absolute minimum of 1 meter apart. This might not be sufficient if persons cannot pass safely between tables.

Sitting customers back to back: Remember the distance between the customers from different households must be a minimum of 1 meter. If using movable furniture then it may need to be wider allowing for customers to move the furniture when seated. Customers and staff have to move safely between tables. If using fixed furniture such as booths, they are likely to need additional screening, or other barriers, as it is unlikely customers will be 1 meter apart.

The use of physical barriers: Customers from different households can be very close if there is a physical barrier between them such as a Perspex screen.

Strict Management Controls: You may need to remove tables and chairs and use signage. Some venues have struggled to remove tables and chairs and have therefore decided to keep the tables in the venue but put strict written rules in place preventing guests being seated on certain tables and placing signage on the tables stating the tables are not in use. This management system should be recorded in a written management plan.

Consider outside areas. Do not place seating near to ash trays, this may encourage smokers to come close to other persons who are seated to extinguish their cigarette butt.

Encourage sitting rather than standing. However if you allow standing in the external areas ensure groups remain in one place, use floor marking etc. If your internal seating is full, you need to explain to persons who are outside that they will not be allowed into the premises should it start to rain, you should do this before you take their orders. Ensure signage is displayed to this effect. 

Beer Gardens and Pavement Cafe's

Existing: If you were using a beer garden or pavement cafe before the Coronavirus Emergency then you can use it again as long as you implement Social Distancing Guidelines.

Opening a new seating area on private land (Beer Garden): You should contact Licensing Services as soon as possible.

New Pavement Licences: This new process introduces a streamlined and cheaper route for businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars to secure a licence to place furniture on the highway. This will support them to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place. To apply for a new Pavement Licence go to our Pavement Licence pages.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do premises need to undertake a Risk Assessment? Yes, your Health and Safety risk assessment need to be updated to reflect this new risk to staff and customers.
  2. Can premises play recorded music? Yes, but it should be incidental background music. People need to be able to talk without raising their voice/shouting whilst social distancing (2 meters apart).
  3. Can  premises screen sports, such as football matches? Yes, but you must discourage shouting and cheering (as this spreads the virus). Therefore you should ensure everyone remains seated and keep the TV volume low. If customers shout at the sports, e.g. football give them polite warnings. You should consider turning the football off or asking customers who repeatedly shout, to leave. If shouting at sports events is a regular problem for your venue you will need to stop screening sports events, like football.
  4. Can premises allow live bands, if they have social distancing measures in place? Yes, Live performances are now permitted but venues must follow the guidance HM Government Performing Arts 
  5. Do I have to offer a booking service? No, but it helps to control the amount of customers arriving at the front door, and will help you to plan the numbers of staff you need on shift.
  6. Can I accept cash? Yes, but we strongly recommend using contactless card payments as cash can transfer the virus. There are a number of cheap and affordable card payment service providers.
  7. Can customers use fruit/games machines? Yes, but strict cleaning and social distancing needs to be implemented. Offer hand sanitizers near the machines, ensure staff clean them regularly. If two machines are located side by side then you may need to move one, provide screens or turn one off, to maintain social distancing. Encourage persons to sit at the machines by providing a bar stool. Do not allow more than one person at a games machine as it may cause a group of people to stand. Remember if moving a games machine you need to adhere to the code of practice.
  8. Can customers play on my pool or snooker tables? Yes, but you need good control measures. You will need to remove all equipment from the public area, triangles, cue's, balls, chalk etc. These will need to be cleaned between new customers. Customers playing should be encouraged to sit between shots. Spectators must not be allowed to stand around the pool tables and watch. If tables are close, you may need to take every other table out of use. Other pub games like darts can also be played, with strict control measures in place.
  9. Can I host Life Celebrations (Such as Wedding receptions, Wakes, Birthday Parties etc?) Yes, but they are strictly limited to no more than 30 guests. Separate households must be seated on separate tables and the HM Government Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Takeaway Services must be followed.


Businesses are required to provide certain information to their customers.

The business can choose how they do this but often the best way to do this is by displaying posters. The Council has created a number of posters that you can use in your business should you choose to do so.

Useful links

If you have any concerns or would like any advice please contact Licensing Services on 01772 906911 or

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