When can pubs and restaurants open indoors?

Women drinking in a restaurant as the rule on when pubs and restaurants can open indoors changes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many people are looking ahead to when pubs and restaurants can reopen indoors, now venues have been able to open their outdoor spaces. 

On April 12, millions of people in England were able to enjoy their first night out since before Christmas as pubs and restaurants opened their outdoor spaces. 

So with a change in how many people can meet outdoors (opens in new tab) and all those over 50 now being offered their first vaccine, it looks as though the next stage of the government's roadmap out of lockdown (opens in new tab) is set to go ahead as planned. 

When can pubs and restaurants open indoors?

Pubs and restaurants can open their indoor spaces from May 17, when the next stage of the lockdown lifts. 

From this date, groups of six or two households will be able to sit indoors together at venues around England. 

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At the moment, hospitality venues can only open their outdoor spaces under the rule of six (opens in new tab). This means that many pubs and restaurants haven’t been able to reopen yet. 

On announcing the government’s plan to lift the lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “No earlier than 17 May, we will go to step three and open all our hospitality sector to service indoor pubs, bars, restaurants, along with hotels and cinemas, and, subject to capacity limits, we will also open sports stadia, concert halls and theatres.” 

At the same time, people from two different households will also be able to gather in private spaces indoors.

This still depends on all four criteria for lifting lockdown being met, however. These are: the vaccine deployment programme must continue successfully, evidence has to show that vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated, infection rates must not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, and the government’s assessment of the risk must not be “fundamentally” changed by the new variants (opens in new tab) of concern.

But currently, there is "nothing in the present data that makes us think that we will have to deviate" from the roadmap. “We set out our roadmap and we’re sticking to it”, the Prime Minister said.  

Woman sitting indoors at a pub

Credit: Getty

Once the restrictions are lifted, pubs and restaurants are only likely to close again if we go into more restrictions - like a circuit breaker lockdown (opens in new tab).

Over 32 million people have now received their first dose of either the Pfizer (opens in new tab) or Oxford vaccine (opens in new tab), with over 7.5 million people now fully inoculated. 

This steady rate of vaccination is likely to continue. Those over 45 will receive the jab soon and the new Moderna vaccine is now also in distribution.

What will pubs and restaurants look like when they reopen?

When pubs and restaurants reopen, there will be strict social distancing regulations in place. There will be restrictions on capacity, meaning that numbers inside the venue will be limited. Everyone will have to wear a face mask inside when they are not sitting down at a table. Venues will also have to increase hygiene measures. 

People visiting the venue will have to register their details with Track and Trace when they enter. This could be via the venue’s own system or via the NHS Track and Trace app.

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.