Drinkers could be forced to wear face masks outside when beer gardens open


Councils may force pub drinkers to wear masks outside

April 12 marks the next stage of the Government’s easing of lockdown (Picture: Getty Images)

Brits could be told to wear masks when pub beer gardens reopen next week despite the fact they will be outside.

Pubs and restaurants will be free to serve customers outside from Monday, as England enters its next stage of lockdown easing.

Visitors must give their details for contact tracing and they must wear face masks while passing through indoor areas – such as to go to the toilet.

Groups will be limited to six people or two households and punters must order alcohol from their table and stay there while eating or drinking.

But despite all of these precautions, some customers may be forced to wear face masks even when sat outdoors.

National guidance only says face coverings are required indoors, but there appears to be some confusion over whether visitors must wear them while walking to and from their tables outside.

A member of bar staff wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) in the form of a face mask, serves customers with drinks outside the Wetherspoon pub, Goldengrove in Stratford in east London on July 4, 2020, as restrictions are further eased during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Pubs in England reopen on Saturday for the first time since late March, bringing cheer to drinkers and the industry but fears of public disorder and fresh coronavirus cases. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Customers ordering food and alcohol will be limited to table service only (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

A notice from Ribble Valley Borough Council, Lancashire, told pubs that ‘face coverings must be worn by customers, except when seated to eat or drink’.

Thinking it must have been a ‘misprint’, Stosie Madi, owner of the Parkers Arms pub near Clitheroe, contacted the council, who said customers must wear masks unless eating or drinking.

She told the Telegraph: ‘You can go anywhere in this country outdoors and do whatever you’re doing without a mask, so why on earth would you need to wear a mask outside in a pub?’

She was told the council had set up a task force to enforce these measures and worries what would happen if they came into her garden and saw a customer ‘walking from his table and going to his car without a mask’.

Members of the public enjoy their first drink in a beer garden

Some councils have said customers will only be allowed to not wear a mask while sat down to eat and drink (Picture: Getty Images)

Another pub in Rochdale said it had received similar guidance as well.

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nichols said: ‘We need local enforcement bodies to be working to support businesses to reopen rather than to be putting barriers in the way or creating confusion.’

CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association Emma McClarkin added: ‘We’re aware of inconsistencies among councils and local authorities and we would ask to come to this in the spirit of trying to assist pubs opening safely rather than trying to look for errors or reasons to stymie their reopening.’

Brits are expected to spend more than £300million next week as pubs and restaurants open up again.

However this is still much less than the country’s average weekly spend of £663million on eating and drinking out, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

And three-fifths of the nation’s pubs — around 40,000 — will have to stay closed because they do not have enough outdoor space, while most that can open will still be making a loss, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) warns.

Hospitality businesses won’t be able to serve customers indoors until May 17 at the earliest under current government plans.

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