Advice for Going to Pubs and Restaurants in the UK

There are some very good restaurants and pubs out there in the United Kingdom, especially London, for example, The Cornershop Bar is a pub in Shoreditch High Street which hosts live comedy and also a fantastic place to watch live sports.

The past year has seen countries, including those in the United Kingdom, impose new restrictions and levels or “tiers” of lockdown regarding the coronavirus pandemic. As of Christmas Week, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have entered various stages of lockdown. It is important that you know the rules so here, we will outline the rules and provide advice for going to the pubs.

These new restrictions alter travel, social gatherings, and business opening hours and service availability, including restrictions to pubs and restaurants. Regardless of where you are and keeping in mind restrictions imposed by specific lockdown levels, here is a comprehensive helpful list of the UK’s lockdown restrictions and advice for visiting your favorite pubs and restaurants to ensure the safety and health of yourself and your fellow patrons.



England operates on a 4 tier-system. The tier delegations are reviewed every 14 days.

1. Tier 1: Restaurants can remain open for dine-in service and pubs can remain open until 23:00 (11pm) GMT; last orders are taken at 22:00 (10pm).
2. Tier 2: Restaurants, pubs and bars can remain open for dine-in service only, until 23:00 (11pm) GMT. Alcohol may only be served with a substantial meal, which the BBC defines as “at least the main course of a breakfast, midday or evening meal, served at a table.”
3. Tier 3: Hospitality venues such as pubs, bars, and restaurants must close apart from delivery, takeaway, and drive-through services. Allowed to meet other households but no more than 6 people.
4. Tier 4: Restrictions same as tier 3, with only essential travel allowed, otherwise people are encouraged to stay at home. Meeting other households is not allowed.


Scotland operates on a level-system, ranging from 0 to 4.

1. Level 0: Hospitality businesses may remain open and serve food and alcohol indoors and outdoors. Indoor regulations restrict parties to a maximum of 8 diners from 3 households. Outdoor regulations restrict parties to a maximum of 15 people from 5 households.
2. Level 1: Level 0 restrictions apply with an added curfew of 10:30pm.
3. Level 2: Most hospitality venues can remain open; alcohol can be served with a meal until 20:00 (8pm) GMT indoors and 22:30 (10:30pm) GMT outdoors.
4. Level 3: Curfew for pubs and restaurants is increased to 18:00 (6pm) GMT and alcohol cannot be served.
5. Level 4: All restaurants, bars, and pubs can remain open for take-out only.

Northern Ireland


Northern Ireland’s restrictions vary depending on lockdown severity.

1. Low risk: Hospitality businesses can serve food but must close by 23:00 (11pm) GMT.
2. High risk: Restaurants can remain open for take-out and delivery only.


Wales operates on a 4-level alert system.

1. Alert Level 1: Hospitality businesses may remain open as normal and alcohol may be served on licenced premises between 6:00 and 22:00 (10pm) GMT. Businesses must close by 22:20 (10:20pm) GMT. No more than 5 people can meet indoors.
2. Alert Level 2: The same restrictions apply as Alert Level 1. No more than 3 people can meet indoors.
3. Alert Level 3: Restaurants and pubs must close dine-in services at 18:00 (6pm) GMT. Alcohol cannot be served. Takeaway is available after 18:00 (6pm) GMT. 4. Alert Level 4: All restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes must remain closed except for take-out or delivery.

Before heading out to your favorite pub or restaurant it is important to consider the established rules patrons will be expected to follow.

Guidelines for Restaurants and Pubs

1. Cover Up:


Masks are required at all times except when eating or drinking. Staff needs to wear face masks as well.

2. Keep Your Distance:

Social distancing of two meters is highly encouraged where applicable, and according to the BBC, businesses can face up to a £10,000 fine for not enforcing social distancing.

3. Call Ahead:

In the interest of social distancing, restaurants and pubs have restricted the number of dine-in tables and seats available, and some restaurants will not allow walk-ins for this reason. Calling ahead to secure a reservation guarantees you will get a table.

4. Time Limit:

Some restaurants and pubs have a time limit for how long a party is allowed to stay. Keep this in mind when choosing where to go, as the BBC reports some places could ask you to leave once you are finished eating.

5. Know Your Order:


In the interest of saving time, reviewing the menu beforehand ensures you can order as soon as possible. Places like McDonald’s and Domino’s are also operating on a limited menu, so it is important to know what is and is not available before ordering.

6. Multiple Households:

Depending on the tier level of the area where you live, you may be unable to dine-in with anyone outside of your household. England’s Tier 2 only allows people of the same household to dine-in, while the ‘rule of six’ (a max of six members from different households) applies to outdoor dining, according to Telegraph. Keep in mind the level restrictions as well as those of specific restaurants.

7. Collecting Information:

The BBC reports that hospitality businesses “are legally required to take customers’ contact details, so they can be traced if there is an outbreak.” This includes your name and phone number, and some establishments may also ask if you have been exposed to coronavirus, have been tested, or have been out of the country. Depending on the restaurant, your temperature could also be recorded.

It is up to the discretion of the restaurant or pub whether a patron is allowed to dine-in, according to legal guidelines, and it is important to remember to be respectful of staff if you are denied entry.

The most important thing to keep in mind regarding visiting restaurants, pubs, bars, or cafes is to be mindful of your own health prior to going out. If you are not feeling well, have been exposed to coronavirus, or suspect you have been exposed, err on the side of caution and stay home. Doing our part to adhere to these temporary restrictions means we can enjoy our favorite pubs and restaurants again.

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