Bars and pubs: getting ready to reopen and how card payments can help

Published: 28/06/2020

Hallelujah, the news we’ve all been waiting for is finally here; on July 4th, pubs and bars can reopen following lockdown restrictions. 

In his statement on June 23rd, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out guidelines for how the hospitality industry would operate in a post-lockdown, COVID-secure way, and as excited as we all are, that only left businesses in the sector less than two weeks to implement the new measures.

We’re here to help, so we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to everything you’ll need to know and do in order to safely open your doors.

What does COVID-secure mean?

To achieve the coveted ‘COVID-secure’ status, all businesses must follow guidelines published by number 10, which outline steps they must take to protect staff and customers alike. 

Follow the steps and you’ll be able to proudly display a badge letting everyone know your establishment is secure - a sure-fire way of reassuring the understandably uneasy general public they’re in safe hands with you. 

These guidelines are for any and all businesses so some of the points aren’t relevant to hospitality (such as working from home where possible), so let’s take a look at the steps pubs and bars can follow:

1. Social distancing

The first thing you need to consider before reopening is distancing. Although the two-metre rule has been replaced by the new ‘one-metre plus’ rule, it’s still important to keep staff and customers two metres apart wherever possible - the one-metre plus rule only comes into play in unavoidable situations. You can prepare to enforce the two-metre rule by:

  • Putting signs around your premises reminding everyone of the rule.
  • Sticking tape on the floor to mark two-metre increments - this will be particularly useful in areas people would queue, like toilets.
  • Arranging and signposting a one-way system through your premises.
  • Avoiding shared workspaces where possible.

And where a two-metre distance cannot be maintained you must do everything within your power to minimise the risk of transmission, like:

  • Putting screens or barriers in place to separate people.
  • Using side-to-side or back-to-back working or seating - you may need to rearrange your furniture to allow for this.
  • Staggering the arrival and departure times of your workforce and clientele.
  • Keeping activities which involve closer proximity as short as possible.
  • Putting some consideration into whether an activity that would break the two-metre rule is strictly necessary to the running of your business - if not, get rid of it.

2. Hygiene, handwashing, and cleaning

Next up you need to look at the procedures you have in place for hygiene, handwashing, and cleaning. We’re not here to patronise you - obviously, this is of the utmost importance right now, but spend some time in anticipation of your reopening nailing these procedures so they’re clear as day for everyone when the big day comes. Here are some things you can do:

  • Thoroughly disinfect items and surfaces which are regularly touched - like doorknobs, handrails, and handles.
  • Hand sanitizer should be made available in restrooms and throughout your workplace.
  • Clean busy areas more frequently.
  • Encourage adherence to the NHS handwashing guidance - it would be a good idea to put posters in your restrooms.
  • Set guidance for the cleaning and use of toilet facilities - again a poster is a good idea - and be sure adequate cleaning materials are available.
  • Provide safe hand drying facilities such as single-use paper towels or hands-free electric dryers - a communal towel is, of course, a big no-no.

3. COVID-19 risk assessment

Once you’ve actioned all the points above it’s time to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment - are there any areas you’ve missed? Any particular areas of concern? Reach out to your workforce and a) make sure they’re crystal-clear about all the new measures, and b) ask if they’ve got any ideas for areas of improvement. You can also:

  • Brush up on the Health and Ssafety Executive’s health and safety at work regulations.
  • Consult with any relevant unions or groups - two heads are always better than one.
  • Take action on any areas highlighted.
  • Share the results of your assessment with your workforce and on your website.

Guidance for pubs and bars

Okay, so we’ve been through the more general guidelines for businesses, so now let’s take a look at what the government has outlined for pubs and bars specifically (spoiler, a lot of it is very similar to the above).

Social distancing

Here are the steps you’ll need to take in your pub or bar to comply with social distancing rules:

  • Put limits on the number of customers you’ll allow in your premises at any one time in order for them to be socially distanced.
  • Encourage customers to order drinks using a smartphone app rather than queueing at the bar.
  • Deliver drinks to adequately-spaced tables.
  • All empty glasses to be collected from tables rather than brought back to the bar by customers.
  • If you have a beer garden, staff will need to conduct patrols to check social distancing is being adhered to.
  • Implement a limited entry approach to restrooms - one in, one out.
  • Put floor markings in place where customers might queue.
  • Assign staff mealtimes.
  • Stagger staff shifts.
  • Introduce a one-way system to eliminate any pinch points.

Hygiene, handwashing, and cleaning

Again, many of these reiterate the general guidelines, but for the sake of completeness let’s take a look:

  • Clean door handles, bar tops, and fruit machines hourly.
  • Set out clear cleaning and use guidelines for restrooms.
  • Increase how frequently restrooms are cleaned in line with how much they’re utilised.
  • Introduce procedures for the cleaning of goods and merchandise entering your workplace.
  • If you become aware of or suspect a case of COVID-19 in someone who’s entered your premises, follow the specific guidance on cleaning.
  • Encourage contact card payments.

Table service

The government’s guidance states all pubs, bars and restaurants operating indoors should only operate with table service. There are a few ways you might implement this while maintaining distancing:

  • Via app technology,
  • Through your website, or
  • Using designated safe collection stations

Test and trace

As a business owner, you’ll be required to collect data from all customers from July 4th and keeping it on record for 21 days - doing so means in the event of a local outbreak the government can use this data to isolate specific people and reduce further spread. Here’s a few ways you can consider collecting this information:

  • Online - during the booking process.
  • In-app - if you already operate app technology then add data collection as an extra feature.
  • Upon arrival/departure - ask customers to fill in a form as they enter your premises or when they leave.


A simple measure which has been shown to help in the battle against COVID-19 is proper ventilation - in each of its eight reports the business department has highlighted this, so in preparation for your reopening, you should check if your ventilation systems (such as air conditioning) need servicing or adjusting.

And once you are open for business again, keep windows and doors open regularly. 

Card payments

Within the government guidance for all kinds of businesses, the statement ‘contactless payments are encouraged’ pops up time and again. It’s not rocket science - contactless payments eliminate the need for any contact between payer, payee, and machine, making it the safest way to pay.

Unsurprisingly then, since the contactless card limit was increased from £30 to £45 during the height of the coronavirus lockdown, consumers have rapidly adopted the new spending cap. They feel more secure paying contactless-ly by card, and so any business offering the technology will be keeping their customers happy and feeling secure, and who doesn’t want that? 

Here at takepayments, all of our market-leading card machines come with contactless payments set up as standard and they’re super easy to set up. Let’s take a quick look at all three options:

Portable card machine 

Our portable terminal is lightweight, durable, and has a 50m range thanks to the inbuilt Bluetooth technology - so you can take contactless card payments to your customers (meeting the table service requirement). They also print instant receipts and hold a long battery life - win, win, win.

Countertop card machines

The countertop machine is exactly that, a card machine that sits on your point of sale plugged into your broadband or phone line connection. They’re compact, durable, super-easy to set up, and you’ll get fast thermal receipt printing built-in. 

Mobile card machines

Mobile machines allow you to take payments on the move - perfect if you offer a delivery or mobile service. They’re powered by 3G via a sim card (just like a mobile phone), plus they hold a long-lasting charge, print receipts, and accept all the payment types you’d expect. 

Top tip: If you want a more comprehensive point of sale which sits behind your bar, automatically collates real-time reports, runs inventory checks, and makes running a business heaps easier, you can connect our card machines to our state of the art EPOS till system.

We'll also be launching new hospitality products soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Ready to take the jump over to contactless? Or just want to find out a bit more about which payment system is the best fit for your business? Our friendly experts are only ever a phone call away, so reach out today on 08082 393 254.

Get your FREE quote today.

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