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Guidance for maintaining a COVID-safe hospitality business

Our guide will take you through the key steps to continue operating safely and ensuring compliance with the latest government guidance.

This page was updated on 15 October 2020

Businesses seeking information for the Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure sector can also access a range of resources on Marketing Manchester's Tourism and Hospitality Support Hub. 

Tourism and Hospitality Support Hub

Since the beginning of the pandemic, most businesses within the hospitality industry were forced to close, but as of 4 July, pubs, restaurants, hotels and others in the sector have been allowed to reopen. 

However, restrictions may apply depending on an area's Local COVID alert level, and businesses should ensure they follow the relevant guidance for their region.

To help business understand the different alert levels and the restrictions associated with them, UK Hospitality have created a useful FAQ guide.

The government has also published detailed guidance to support sector businesses operate safely: 

To ensure the health and safety of your staff and customers, measures should be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) which mainly occurs through respiratory droplets generated during breathing, talking, coughing and sneezing as well as via indirect contact with contaminated surfaces.  

The main controls should focus on enabling social distancing (2 metres apart or where not possible "one metre plus"), good hygiene (washing your hands regularly) and appropriate workplace cleaning to disinfect hand contact surfaces.  

All hospitality businesses should consider undertaking the practical actions outlined in our business checklist below:

Remain COVID-19 safe – Business checklist

1. Conduct and display your Risk Assessment. The Centre for Assessment have developed a risk assessment toolkit, which includes a guide and a free template which you can access here.

2. Create and display your NHS COVID-19 App QR code poster for staff, customers and visitors to scan on arrival whilst also providing an alternative process to collect data for individuals without a smartphone or access to the app.

3. Support homeworking wherever possible
4. Play you part in easing the pressure on public transport by establishing rotas and shift patterns that avoid peak travel times

5. Businesses providing food and drink for consumption on their premises are required to comply with the new ‘Covid-secure’ regulations which came into force on 18 September. Businesses that fail to implement the measures face a fixed penalty notice of up to £10,000. The regulations require that businesses must:

  • not accept a table booking for a group of more than 6 individuals or admit a group of more than 6 people – exemptions apply
  • take reasonable steps to prevent separate groups of 6 from interacting with each other
  • ensure that tables of different groups are spaced 2m apart, or 1m with mitigations such as screens or barriers in place

6. From September 24, businesses that sell alcohol for consumption on the premises (e.g. hotel bars, pubs, and restaurants) are required to operate a table service only (This guidance may not apply to areas with local restrictions).

7. All hospitality venues will have to close at 10pm. To help the police enforce this rule that means closing not just calling for last orders. This will also apply to takeaways - though deliveries can continue thereafter. Some exemptions apply, including cinemas, theatres and concert halls which have started shows before 10pm, however they will not be permitted to serve food or drink to customers after 10pm.

8. Remind customers and staff to wear a face covering where required. To help reduce the risk of transmission of the virus the government has extended the requirement to wear face coverings to include staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

9. Prevent singing in groups of more than 6 (or one household); prevent dancing by customers (other than by the couple at a wedding or civil partnership); and ensure that no loud music is played, to reduce the need for customers to shout to communicate. Singing by customers in groups of more than 6 people (unless exemptions apply) and music which exceeds 85db(A) at its source (except for performances of live music) are not allowed in law from September 28.

10. Provide good hygiene facilities and enable social distancing at work


sector specific mitigation measures can be seen below.

Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

Customer communications

Businesses should ensure customers are aware of the safety measures that have been implemented. These could be published on your website, as well as included in email communications prior to customer visitsAppropriate signage on your premises will also remind customers to follow the guidelines set. In addition, you should always encourage compliance with limits on gatherings. 

  • From 14 September, indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to a group of a maximum of six people from any number of households* (exceptions apply). 
  • From 18 September businesses are legally required to enforce the rule of 6. 

*This could vary depending on local restrictions which may be in place in certain areas.


Businesses must keep a temporary record of their customers for 21 days to assist the NHS Test and Trace respond to any local outbreaks. From 18 September, this is required by law in England and pubs, bars and restaurants will be required to refuse entry or service to customers who refuse to provide NHS Test and Trace data or "check in" using the NHS COVID-19 App. When groups visit your venue you will need to ensure that at least one member of the party leaves their contact details and the number of people in their group (max. 6) or that the entire group "checks in" using the official NHS QR code poster.

Displaying an official NHS QR code poster to allow people who have downloaded the app to scan and "check in" is required by lawMore information on how the NHS Test and Trace App works is available through our dedicated guide for businesses. 

Guidelines published by the Department of Health and Social Care set out the steps businesses can take to maintain records of staff, customers and visitors. 

To support businesses to better understand what information they should collect from their customers and visitors to support the NHS Test and Trace service, we have developed an easy-to-read guide which is available to download here.

Additional guidance relating to data collection to support businesses collecting customer and visitor details for contact tracing, has been published by the Information Commissioner's Office, UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights.

In addition to assisting the NHS, asking guests to make a booking prior to their arrival may help you manage and ensure you have sufficient social distancing both inside your premises for those dining and ensure that large queues do not build up outside of your premise. Read our quick guide to help you safely manage queues forming inside and outside of your business.



Enhance the cleaning regime both in the front of house and in the kitchen as well as in staff areas such as break rooms.  

The Food Standards Agency have general information on cleaning within a kitchen environment here: and have also developed a cleaning scheduleIn addition to the usual cleaning regime, you can also go over and disinfect all hand touch surfaces once more prior to closing. When cleaning and drying used crockery and cutlery, the use of the dishwasher is preferable. If this is not feasiblemake sure you wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel. 

General principles of cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic and cleaning guidance for a work place/area where a person with suspected Coronavirus has been, is also available on the government website

Adjusting operations 

  • Minimise customer self-service of food, cutlery and condiments  
  • Clean non-disposable condiment containers after each use or provide disposable condiments.
  • Reduce the number of surfaces touched by both staff and customers 
  • Minimise contact between front of house staff and customers at points of service  
  • From 15 August, venues may host socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances, though performances are encouraged to continue to take place outdoors wherever possible. Venues should take account of the performing arts guidance in organising performances
  • Venues should take necessary measures to avoid having people raise their voices to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus via droplets. These measures could include refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting and if necessary, ensuring the volume is appropriate to allow normal conversations to take place 
  • Consider introducing additional litter bins to encourage customers to dispose of their own waste, such as wrappers. This will reduce the need for staff to touch items that have been left or touched by customers, as well as reduce littering on and around your premises 


Security Considerations

Security officers / Door supervisors should:

  • Be equipped with the relevant protective equipment and hand sanitiser
  • Be trained appropriately to communicate the new business regulations including social distancing guidelines
  • Ensure outdoor areas are regularly monitored to avoid groups forming


Hotels and other guest accommodation

Registration – bookings

Similarly to restaurants, pubs and bars, hotels must temporarily record contact details and ensure these are kept for 21 days to assist the NHS Test and Trace service. From 18 September, having a system in place to record contact details of your customers, visitors and staff is required by law. In addition, from 24 September, hotels are also legally required to display an official NHS QR Code poster to allow customers to "check in" directly via the NHS COVID-19 App.

For more information on what businesses need to do to ensure compliance with the new regulations, visit our easy-to-read guide which is available to download here.


Advice on local restrictions 

Accommodation providers should consider their approach towards guests from inside areas with local restrictions and not intentionally facilitate interaction between more than one household/support bubble indoors. Providers not complying with these responsibilities may be at risk of the premises being closed. Further guidance relating to the responsibilities of accommodation providers are available through the government website, here

Adjust reception services

  • Ensure hand sanitiser is available at the desk and staff use it between serving guests
  • Ensure social distancing is in place to reduce risk of transmission and if required introduce screens or barriers to separate staff from guests
  • If you have a porter, ensure they are properly trained to effectively manage queues, communicate to guests the safety measures in place and encourage visitors to follow social distancing
  • Consider minimising services offering guests support with luggage, and if staff do help guests with luggage, they should follow social distancing measures whilst collecting luggage and either take it to the room before the guest arrives there or knock on the door, step back and leave the luggage at the door. After handling luggage, staff should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser
  • Consider introducing a central key card deposit box placed in the lobby to minimise contact with staff and ensure used keys are afterwards disinfected
  • Consider providing a welcome note or material to inform guests of the safety measures implemented and promote social distancing and good hygiene practice
  • Consider minimising lift usage from reception as well as reducing maximum occupancy for lifts, providing hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts and encouraging use of stairs wherever possible.


Adapt room service offering 

Room service can be preferable to dining at the hotel restaurant as social distancing can be more easily observed. However, you would need to establish a process to minimise the risk of cross-contamination and inform guests of this in advance. Some key considerations for operating room service include:  

  • Staff following social distancing and not bringing service trays into the room 
  • Staff washing their hands both prior to carrying the service tray and after delivering it 
  • Minimising any paperwork required and discouraging the use of cash for paying for the service as well as tipping. Any guest tips should be included in the bill 
  • Informing guests of the process of removing the tray after they are finished (do they leave the tray outside their door or retain in the room for later collection)  
  • Once trays have been collected, they will need to be disinfected before reuse.  


Housekeeping measures  

Amongst other hotels will need to review the frequency of room cleaning taking into account different lengths of stay. Once a guest has checked out, it is important that all hand contact surfaces are disinfected. This could include:  

  • Light switches, flush handles, door handles (inside and out), hairdryer handles, minibar handles and kettle handles (including the lid) 
  • Bedside tables and desks 
  • Remote control  
  • Wardrobe doors 
  • Taps  
  • Toilet seats and toilet bin 
  • Iron and ironing board 
  • Safe handle and buttons  
  • Heater and/or air conditioner controls.  


Transportation of guests  

If you offer a transportation service for guests you should consider:  

  • Providing hand sanitiser in shuttle bus service  
  • Disinfecting the vehicle between journeys 
  • Adapting capacity to enable social distancing 
  • Encouraging contactless payment 
  • Minimising assistance with luggage where possible. If help is required staff should follow social distancing whilst handing the luggage and wash their hands or use hand sanitiser afterwards 

 Waste disposal 

Similarly to the guidance provided for restaurants and pubs, hotels should consider adding litter bins to reduce the need for staff to touch items that have been left behind by guests. 

Managing the emergence of COVID-19 cases 

In the event that guest displays symptom of coronavirus while staying in overnight accommodation, they should inform the accommodation provider, immediately self-isolate and book a test. If the test is positive, the guest should return to their home if they reasonably can using private transport. If they are unable to do so either because they aren’t feeling well or cannot arrange transport, their circumstances should be discussed with an appropriate health care professional and, if necessary, the local authority.

If the guest is unable to return home, the accommodation provider should discuss meal and laundry provision with the guest, and consider whether a symptomatic guest should clean their own room. Unless otherwise stated in the contractual terms of the booking, the guest will be expected to pay the costs of an extended stay in all but exceptional circumstances (e.g. cases where the accommodation provider has failed to create a COVID-secure environment).

In the event of a confirmed case, hotels can follow the government guidance on cleaning in a non-healthcare setting to decontaminate the area. In addition to isolating and cleaning the room, ensure that touch points are also cleaned not only on the floor level where the infected guest was staying, but on other levels as well, as other guests may have picked up the virus and transferred it to other floors and areas. 


Health clubs / fitness centres /pools  

Indoor health clubsfitness centres and pools have been allowed to open from 25 July 2020.



In addition to the guidance relating to hotels, hostels should also consider safety measures relating to shared shower facilities and locker room and luggage storage 

  • Shared shower facilities should be shut down or assigned to one household group or support bubble. Hostels could also consider establishing a booking system and ensuring the facilities are cleaned thoroughly between reservations.  
  • In locker rooms and luggage storage facilities, keypads should be disinfected regularly and luggage left behind should be disposed of, after being safely stored for 72 hours. 
  • If any staff are required to handle luggage, they should ensure they wash their hands or use hand sanitiser afterwards.  

If guests develop COVID-19 symptoms they should follow the process outlined in the hotels section. It is particularly important to prevent any guests from entering the premises until any shared areas can be thoroughly cleaned 


Bed and Breakfasts 

The Bed and Breakfast Association and its members have developed a resource page to support bed and breakfast and guesthouse owners to safely reopen which can be accessed here.


A detailed guide including further advice and risk assessments to support hospitality businesses become COVID-19 secure has been produced by UK Hospitality and can be accessed here 


For further sector specific advice and guidance on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19), visit the government’s dedicated webpage. A reopening tool is also available on the government website here.  

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The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.  

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