COVID Regulations – food and drink businesses – more change (again)

  • Posted

Yes, it’s hard to keep up. Things are changing so quickly. It is entirely understandable that there is confusion as to exactly what individuals and business can and cannot do.

COVID: Restrictions on Seating and Opening Hours of Businesses and Services

Following our recent blog, further restrictions are in force from today 24 September 2020, published, as always, very late in the day (a minute before midnight).

Operating hours

Persons responsible for carrying on a restricted business or providing a restricted service cannot operate between the hours of 10pm and 5am.

There are exceptions to this:

  • where food or drink is sold for the consumption off the premises between 10pm and 5am. Here, a business can make deliveries received online, by phone, by text or by post. In addition, food and drink can be sold to a purchaser who collects it in a vehicle – but the purchaser or any other person cannot leave the vehicle, so it must be passed to them
  • cinemas, theatres or concert halls can carry on their business from 10pm for the purposes of concluding any performance beginning before 10pm
  • motorway service areas can continue to provide services between 10pm and 5am.

Table seating

If there is serving of alcohol for consumption on the premises then food and drink can only be sold for consumption on those premises in this way:

  • the food and drink has to be ordered by and be served to a customer who is seated
  • the business must take all reasonable steps to ensure the customer remains seated whilst consuming the food and drink (NB premises not selling alcohol must also comply with this rule)

Restrictions on Gatherings

There have been changes in the numbers permitted to be part of any gathering:

  • reduction of attendance at weddings from 30 to 15 persons (includes wedding receptions)
  • a limit of 30 for funerals remains but other religious ceremonies removed
  • exemption for indoor organised sport removed (save where it relates to disability)
  • max 15 participants in support groups (and may not take place in private dwellings).


The initial fine level for fixed penalties is now increased to start at £200 up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offences – there is a multiplier using the penalty amount for each subsequent offence. These are for breaching restriction on participation in gatherings or relating to accessing outdoor places or the requirements to close businesses.

However, for offences relating to operating unlawfully between 10pm and 5am and table seating, etc. penalty notices are fixed at £1,000 increasing to £2,000 (second offence), £4,000 (third offence) and £10,000 (for fourth/further Fixed Penalty Notices).

When in Force?

These regulations come into force at 5am on 24 September 2020, except those relating to weddings, wedding receptions, funerals and other gatherings that come into force on 28 September 2020. They might usefully be read in conjunction with our article about new rules relating to face coverings.

Source: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020.

We Can Help You

We will continue to keep you updated in this ever-changing landscape.

Please contact Tim Ridyard on 07484 924834 or email for individual advice for your business.

Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any regulatory or road transport matters, please get in touch with our specialist Regulatory and Road Transport team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.

This information is correct at 3pm on 24 September 2020.


    How can we help you?

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible or to speak to one of our experts call
    0330 404 0749

    I would like to subscribe to Ashtons Legal's mailing list.

    I accept that my data will be held for the purpose of my enquiry in accordance with Ashtons
    Privacy Policy

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    How can we help?

    If you have an enquiry or you would like to find out more about our services, why not contact us?