Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others

Rules on staying safe and protecting others to help suppress coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others
Shopping, eating and drinking out

Shopping, eating and drinking out

In Phase 3, shops and hospitality premises can re-open in line with guidance.

Eating and drinking out

Restaurants, cafes and pubs can open outdoor and indoor seating areas. This must be line with physical distancing and sector guidance for tourism and hospitality.

Meeting others in a pub, restaurant, café or other indoor hospitality venue

Indoors and outdoors

You may meet people from no more than 1 other household at a time (up to 6 people in total) in a pub, restaurant or café or other hospitality venue.

Where meeting outdoors, children under 12 do not count towards the limit of 6 people who can meet or to the total number of households in the gathering.

You should make sure you stay physically distant from people from other households at all times. In general, this means you will need to stay 2 metres apart, but depending on the hospitality venue you are visiting, this may be 1 metre. If the venue you are visiting requires 1 metre between people at the venue, there should be additional measures in place to minimise transmission of COVID-19,  for example, hand sanitiser stations and increased ventilation. There will be signs up to tell you whether you are in a 2 metres or 1 metre area

Physical distancing and good hand hygiene remain the most effective measures in reducing the transmission of COVID-19.  Therefore, distancing requirements need to be maintained, where reasonably practicable, at all times, including when you are waiting to enter premises and when you are seated. 

For this reason you should meet people from other households in only small numbers so that physical distancing will be possible. You may only meet people from no more than 1 other household at a time (up to 6 people in total) though the venue may impose a smaller group limit depending on things like venue and table size.

You may still visit hospitality settings with all the members of your household even if your household contains more than 6 people in total, though the venue may impose a smaller group limit depending on things like venue and table size.

In particular, when considering meeting people from more than one other household, you should think beforehand about what size of table you will need to keep physically distanced between members of different households. The venue you are visiting should be able to advise you of booking options.

You should avoid visiting multiple hospitality premises on the same day. In particular, do not visit more than one pub or bar on the same day, as this increases the risk of transmission.

You must wear a face covering except when seated at a table.

Hospitality premises must close at 10pm.


Non-essential shops in indoor shopping centres may re-open.

Auction houses can re-open.

Hairdressers and barbers can re-open, in line with guidance.

Other personal retail services can re-open. This includes spas, tattoo and piercing parlours, nail bars and premises offering massage therapies. Close Contact Services guidance has been published for businesses who offer such close contact services and is based on a risk assessment process which service providers should use to identify which treatments and activities can be offered.

When visiting a shop, you must wear a face covering. Specific guidance for those visiting shops can be found at: guidance for consumers.

Bear in mind that some people – for example those with sight loss, autism, learning disabilities, dementia or other communication or mobility needs - may find physical distancing rules more difficult to follow than others and may not be able to keep 2 metres away from others, such as those relying on a guide dog or another person for guide support.

Please be considerate with those around you by giving way when you are out and about and offer assistance if you think someone needs it.

You can help by -

  • keeping your distance, but don’t disappear - if you see someone with a Guide Dog or a long cane, or with mobility difficulties, then you can help them by making sure you keep 2 metres away
  • saying hello and offering your help – simply by letting someone with sight loss know you are nearby you are giving them the opportunity to ask you for any help. For example, letting them know where a shopping queue starts, or if there is a safer place to cross a road
  • describing the scene -we’ve all had to adapt to doings things differently during lockdown – for example, people standing 2 meters apart in long lines outside of supermarkets. People with sight loss or other communication or mobility needs, haven’t always witnessed this to the same extent, which can be isolating and confusing. By describing what you can see to someone with sight loss, or just by being friendly, you can help them to understand the environment and navigate accordingly.


All holiday accommodation can reopen, in line with guidance.

People from more than one household (or extended household) must not stay in self-catered accommodation together while the current restrictions on indoor private gatherings are in place. This includes accommodation such as a caravans, flats and holiday cottages. If you are staying in a hotel, bed and breakfast or similar accommodation, you should not have more than one household (or extended household) staying in each room booked.

See: more information on extended households.



First published: 23 Sep 2020 Last updated: 23 Sep 2020 -