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Can you eat out during Christmas?

Eating out at restaurant

It’s no surprise that Christmas 2020 is going to be a lot different this year. Thanks to the ongoing pandemic and the restrictions we’re living under, we’ve had to adjust our expectations and tweak our traditional plans to accommodate an altogether more pared-back festive season.

For many people, going out with family and friends for a meal is a tradition they wouldn’t want to miss. Whether it’s a Christmas Eve celebration, a Boxing Day pub lunch or dinner on the big day itself, the chance to go out, spend time with loved ones and have someone else do the cooking is a favourite part of the festivities.

But is that something we will be able to enjoy this Christmas? Here we look at what the December restrictions mean for the hospitality industry and for you.

Christmas bubbles

On the 23rd December, people in the UK will be able to form a temporary ‘Christmas bubble’ with up to three households until and including the 27th December. This was brought in to enable families to get together over the festive season.

But while, as a bubble, you will be able to host each other in your homes and even stay overnight, you will not be allowed to visit pubs, cafes or restaurants with your extended bubble.

Tiers take priority

Whether or not you can enjoy a Christmas celebration in a pub or restaurant will depend on what tier you live in and your Christmas bubble doesn’t overrule this.

In tier 3 areas, hospitality venues, such as pubs, cafes and restaurants cannot open, except to offer delivery and takeaway services.

In areas under tier 2 restrictions, hospitality venues can open if they serve substantial meals. You are only able to eat inside with your household or members of your regular (not Christmas) bubble, but you can eat outside with people not in your household, provided you stick to the ‘rule of six’.

In tier 1, groups of six from different households can meet inside pubs, restaurants and cafes.

The tier system is reviewed every 14 days, with the next review due on the 16th December, so always check the local restrictions before you make any plans.

What are hospitality venues doing about safety?

It’s a difficult time for hospitality venues as they attempt to adapt to the constantly changing rules and tiers. Those that are allowed to open will have specific safety measures in place such as one-way systems and clear signage reminding customers about social distancing. Spacing out tables and managing the amount of people in an area are also recommended. Table service is compulsory and customers must wear masks when moving about the venue.

What does this mean for your festive meal?

Despite the Christmas break from restrictions, whether you can go out for a meal with friends or family will depend on what tier you live in. Those in tier 2 will be able to have a meal in a restaurant with their household, but not with extended family. And families in tier 3 will have no choice but to stay at home and call for a takeaway.

Travel restrictions are lifted over the five-day break however. So, for example, you will be able to travel from tier 2 to see loved ones in a tier 1 area, and therefore go for a meal if you are in a group of six.

However, with the majority of the country in tier 2 or 3, for this Christmas at least, it seems the festive meal at a pub or restaurant with friends and family will have to wait until next year.

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